After eight days at sea, British sip-and-puff sailor Hilary Lister, 42, is nearing the coast of Oman. Lister, 42, has undertaken an 800 nautical mile crossing of the Indian ocean from Mumbai, India to Muscat, Oman on a 28-foot trimaran sailboat controlled by a sip-and-puff system. Upon completion she will be the first quadriplegic to make such a voyage.
Lister, whose quadriplegia is caused by reflex sympathetic dystrophy, has become one of Britain’s best-known sailors. Her record breaking sailing feats include a solo crossing of the English Channel in 2005 and sailing solo around Britain in 2009.
The system Lister is using consists of a series of three straws and a bite switch. It enables her steer the boat, sipping or puffing to put the helm port or starboard and operating the winches that pull the sails in or lets them out. She navigates using an iPad controlled with a mouth stick.
The boat is being sailed by a two-woman crew — sharing duties with Lister on the voyage is Nashwa Kindi, 32, a sailing instructor from Oman. They are taking turns sailing the boat in six-hour watches during daylight and four hours at night. When Kindi, who is non-disabled, is on watch she switches off the sip and puff and operates the boat manually.
Also aboard is Lister’s attendant, Niall Myatt. Although an experienced offshore sailor, he will not be doing any of the sailing.
Lister is expected to sail into the Muscat harbor and the record books sometime today.
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