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Hilary Lister (GBR)

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Name Hilary Lister
Nation GBR
Date of Birth 3 March 1972
Place of Birth UK

The achievement of Hilary Lister is inspirational. Diagnosed with a degenerative disease at the age of 11, Lister was confined to a wheelchair when she was 15. She is now a quadriplegic, only able to move her head, mouth and eyes. When she was introduced to sailing in 2003 she was given a new lease of life and her passion for the sport developed quickly. In 2005 she sailed solo across the English Channel, in 2007 circumavigated the Isle of Wight and the Round Britain challenge was a dream in the making.

On 31 August 2009 Lister's dream was reality when she became the first disabled woman to sail solo around Britain. Lister began her record attempt in June 2008 but had to suspend her sail due to bad weather and technical issues. In May 2009 Lister resumed from Plymouth, sailing clockwise before returning home to Dover in August. Lister's journey was a series of day sails of between 30 and 50 miles and with over 40 stops the team were able to showcase the adventure and raise awareness of disabled sailing along the way.

Lister sails her Artemis 20 using a 'sip and puff' system of tubes to control the steering and sails. Seated in a custom seating module that maintains her body position and comfort, Lister controls everything, including setting the sails and steering the boat, with her breath.

Artemis 20 (solo)

Clockwise Circumnavigation of Britain - May-Aug 2009


What inspired you to take up sailing?

A friend

What was the first boat you ever sailed and how old were you?
A Soling, when I was 33
Name your first sailing club

Westbere Sailing Opportunities

What are you personal sailing career highlights?

First quadriplegic to sail the English Channel, solo (2005)

First quadriplegic to sail solo around the Isle of Wight (2007)

First disabled woman to sail solo around Britain (2008-9)

What are your future sailing goals?

To get a boat I can make longer solo passages aboard - a cabin of some sort would be nice! I'd like to push my sailing as far as i can and get into Ocean Sailing eventually.

Who has had the greatest impact on your sailing and career and why?

Martin Cox - the first person to take me seriously when I said that I wanted to sail solo (before a boat existed). Emma Sanderseon (nee Richards) and Andrew Pindar who helped make sailing possible.

Who is your sailing hero?

Brian thompson

What other sports do you enjoy?

None - it's tricky when you're quadriplegic. I used to enjoy swimming and contact sports like hockey and rugby.

What does being nominated for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards mean to you and how would you feel if you were voted the winner?
It's incredible to be nominated. I think of myself as a sailor who happens to be quadriplegic, but I would never consider that I was even approaching a professional level, although it is my ultimate goal. Winning would be a huge reward not just for myself but for all the people who have made it possible for me to sail over the years, whether it was my local sailing group or Pindar and Artemis.
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