'Sip and Puff’ sailor Natasha 'Miss isle’ Lambert “bounced” into Salcombe today (Tuesday 29 July) with just one more leg to complete until the next rest day on her Sea and Summit Challenge.
The 17-year-old, who has cerebral palsy and controls her boat by breathing through a straw in a specially-engineered bicycle helmet, experienced a different side to the impact of her challenge before setting off from Dartmouth when her team welcomed Dart Sailability sailor, Juliet Prentice, to see how her boat works.
Juliet, who has rheumatoid arthritis and uses a wheelchair, has been following Natasha’s progress and was inspired to see if a sip and puff system could be something she might be able to take advantage of to progress her own sailing.
As well as getting the lowdown on how the system works from Natasha’s coach, Phil Devereux, Juliet also met Natasha and her dad, Gary.
Tomorrow Natasha will sail from Salcombe to Plymouth on the third and final leg of a three-stop ‘sprint’ along Devon’s south coast. With none of these legs over 20 miles, they are the shortest of the whole Sea and Summit Challenge.
Once in Plymouth she will have at least one rest day before venturing into the increasingly testing waters around the Cornish coastline.
Phil said: "It was a reasonably quick three-hour sail from Dartmouth. The weather was good, with light winds up to Start Point and then a healthy 18-19 knot westerly.
"Tash was pleased, and enjoying it all, and the guys in the support RIB even got a bit wet as the sea state had a bit of 'bounce’! Our arrival into Salcombe was pretty low-key. Tash has a few bumps and bruises but we’re looking forward to the decent breeze that’s forecast tomorrow."
Sea and Summit is Natasha’s biggest challenge yet - a month-long project sailing her specially-designed 21ft yacht, Miss Isle Too, single-handed around the South West coast of England to Wales before she swaps her boat for her special walking aid, called a Hart Walker, to climb Pen y Fan, the highest peak in Southern Britain. In total she will sail around 430 miles and climb 2,907ft.
Through the Sea and Summit challenge Natasha is raising money for the RNLI, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and the RYA Foundation, as well as the profile of sailing for people with disabilities. She has a target of £15,000 to raise by the end of her challenge.
Sailing has been Natasha’s big love since she first went on holiday with the Calvert Trust aged nine. She then started sailing at home and spent two years sailing with the Even Keel Project and her local RYA Sailability. Last year she sailed across the English Channel, and in 2012, the 50-miles around the Isle of Wight.
RYA Sailability is the national programme providing people with disabilities opportunities to learn to sail and sail regularly.
How can I support Miss Isle?
Whether you want to send Natasha messages of support or would like to donate to her fundraising there are a number of ways to get involved:
Facebook: Miss Isle Community
VIDEO: Exmouth to Dartmouth - Tash hits 10K