March 20, 2014, from Oman Sail
Although they crossed the finish line in Oman last night, the official welcome took place at The Wave, Muscat earlier today. A huge gathering turned out to honour the two girls who now hold records for the first ever severely paralysed woman and the first Arab female sailor to make a trans-oceanic crossing.
The 850-nautical mile journey across the Indian Ocean started from Mumbai, India on Tuesday 11 March and took nine days to complete. The course generally took them up wind with winds reaching no more than 10-15kts, and the average boat speed was 5-6kts. They did however, encounter a 36-hour stop to refuel and carry out a repair to the Code Zero sail, which delayed their overall finish time.
Lister, who suffers from a degenerative disease – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – and who is paralysed from the neck down, can now add this record to the already impressive solo round Britain disabled record she set in 2009.
Lister commented: “I am delighted to have set this record with Nashwa. It was a truly amazing journey, particularly the arrival into Oman. More than anything, however, this trip has highlighted that longer offshore legs are a lot easier for me than shorter legs where I am constantly getting on and off the boat.”
The team, powered by Oman Sail and sponsored by Mistal and United Engineering Services, with support from Oman Air, GAC Pindar, Harken, Ocean Safety and Raymarine, were sailing a specially adapted Dragonfly. This boat incorporates a unique sip and puff sailing system that sends signals to a device using air pressure. By inhaling or exhaling into a straw Lister is able to steer, trim sails and navigate.
Lister continued: “Thanks to Roger Crabtree’s simple ‘plug and play’ sip and puff system, I think we proved that a long distance oceanic passage is highly achievable. This particular creation means I can transfer it from one boat to another, which has inspired me to think about future challenges. In the short term, however, it will be a case of trying to help other people with similar difficulties to me, get on the water by making this system available.”
Commenting on the highlight of the voyage, Lister said it has to be the phosphorescence: “Being on the ocean at night was simply sensational. I will never forget the amount of phosphorescence.
“The funniest moment I had was when a flying fish hit me slap, bang in the middle of the face. It was a hilarious moment, and we still laugh about it now. As well as the serious sailing, we had a lot of fun.”
Lister’s teammate, Al Kindi believes that becoming the first Arab female to set a new sailing record will hopefully inspire other women to follow their dreams. Al Kindi, who is a dinghy sailing instructor at Oman Sail, only started sailing in 2011 but instantly adopted the sport. In a short period of time she was recognised as the “Coach of the Year” in Oman Sail’s Sailor of the Year Awards 2013, and presented with the ISAF President Development Award 2013 for outstanding achievement.
As she stepped ashore she said: “I am very happy and proud to achieve this goal. It was always my dream to sail offshore in a big boat. I am sure, and I hope that what we have done will be an inspiration for Omani and non-Omani women to go for their dreams and goals. For me personally, it has strengthened my ultimate goal, which is to sail solo around the world one day.”
Commenting on the trip’s most memorable moments, Al Kindi said: “I will always remember the chats I had with Hilary on deck at night. She is a good, experienced sailor and she taught me a lot and she is my biggest inspiration.”
ABOUT OMAN SAIL
Oman Sail is a national initiative established in 2008 that uses the power of sport to contribute to the development of the Omani people. The equal opportunity project runs sailing programmes for thousands of young Omani men and women, inspiring a new generation to discover sailing. It encompasses a national sailing squad and high achieving inshore and offshore racing teams, all of which benefit from world-class coaching and whose ultimate objective is to win an Olympic medal for Oman. The programme has pledged to teach 70,000 Omani children to sail by 2020 at eight sailing schools, four of which are already operational. The goal is to rekindle Oman’s maritime heritage while raising the country’s regional and international profile as a high-end tourist and foreign investment destination, through competitive sailing at home and abroad. Oman Sail seeks to instil confidence and to teach valuable, transferable life skills to a generation of Omanis.
This article was syndicated from BLUE PLANET TIMES