Historic sail for quadriplegic woman

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AUG. 26 - A British woman has become the first quadriplegic to sail solo across the English Channel. The crossing also set the record for the longest single-handed sail by a quadriplegic.

Hilary Lister, who is 33, sailed a modified Soling 26, called Malin, across the busy channel in just over six hours on Tuesday. Four support boats made the passage with her. Lister, who is only able to move her head, eyes and mouth, activated the automated sails and rudder by blowing and sucking through two plastic tubes.

“It’s been such an amazing day, to have the whole freedom of the water to myself and just be out there on my own. It is very emotional for me,” Lister says in a news report.

“I want to get able-bodied people to rethink their views about the disabled,” she adds.

Having been active as a child, Lister was housebound as a paraplegic since she was a teenager. That changed in 2003 when a neighbor introduced her to sailing, according to information on her Web site . Lister says she became serious about sailing across the English Channel in the spring of 2004 while on vacation in New Zealand.

Pindar, a British print and electronic media company, sponsored Lister. Pindar also sponsored Emma Richards, the youngest person and first British woman to complete the Around Alone solo sailing circumnavigation race.

Lister plans to sail around the British Isles next year, according to a news report.

Jason Fell