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Quadriplegic woman to attempt historic sail

AUG. 4 — A British woman will attempt to become the first quadriplegic to sail solo across the English Channel.

Hilary Lister, 33, is only able to move her head, eyes and mouth, according to a news report. She will sail a modified Soling 26, called Malin, and will be able to activate the automated sails and rudder by blowing into a plastic tube. Lister plans to begin the voyage Aug. 15.

Although she will sail unaided, the report says, Lister will be followed by a support vessel manned by volunteers.

Lister became serious about crossing the English Channel in spring 2004 while on vacation in New Zealand. “The attitude towards disabled people in New Zealand had really impressed me,” Lister says on her Web site. “I have always been a goal-orientated person,” she continues, “and the years without work, due to my illness, had taken their toll. Suddenly, I had something to live for.”

Pindar, a British print and electronic media company, is sponsoring Lister. Pindar sponsored Emma Richards, the youngest person and first British woman to complete the around the world yacht race, Around Alone.

If Lister crosses the English Channel successfully, she will also set the record for sailing the longest distance by a quadriplegic, according to the report.

Jason Fell