Natasha Lambert - Miss Isle - is set to get her incredible 2014 Sea and Summit Challenge underway on Thursday (24 July), conditions depending (download provisional schedule to right).
Here are a few things you might not know about Natasha.....
1) Who is Natasha Lambert
Natasha Lambert, 17, lives on the Isle of Wight with her mum, Amanda, dad, Gary, and younger sister Rachel. She is also supported by her coach, Phil Devereux, who sails on the boat with Natasha.
Natasha has quadriplegic athertoid cerebral palsy which affects her speech and control of her movements. Essentially the messages from Natasha’s brain don't go to her muscles.
Natasha uses a wheelchair and is pioneering a special walking aid called a Hart Walker, which she describes as her ‘best piece of kit’, along with her boat, a 21ft Mini Transat, Miss Isle Too!
2) Why do I know the name?
Last July Natasha, then just 16, sailed across the English Channel from Boulogne, France to Dover, Kent in just four and a half hours!
The previous year she sailed around the Isle of Wight, about 60 miles, which is the longest she has ever sailed.
3) How does she control the boat?
Natasha uses her breathing alone to control her sailing boat, using a 'sip and puff' system operated by a straw inside of a mountain bike helmet.
Natasha will either blow down the tube or tip of the tube which will either turn the boat or alter the sail settings.
This mechanism was engineered by her dad, Gary, an electrician. Gary learnt computer coding and spent months creating a system for Natasha, to enable her to control her boat with a single straw to steer and control the sails.
4) What is the Sea and Summit Challenge?
The ‘Sea and Summit’ challenge will see Natasha sail single-handed from her hometown of Cowes, Isle of Wight on a month-long in her 21ft Mini Transat, Miss Isle Too, single-handed around the South West coast of England to Wales.
She will them swap her boat for her special walking aid, called a Hart Walker and climb Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons, the highest peak in Britain south of the Snowdonia mountain range!
In total Natasha will sail approximately 430 miles and climb 2,907ft.
She sees raising money as an important part of this project and wants to be achieving something worthwhile for others through it.
All her efforts will go towards 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.
5) Where's she stopping?
The scheduled first stop is Poole, followed by Weymouth and then into Devon to Exmouth, Dartmouth, Salcombe and Plymouth.
Fowey is the first planned port of call in Cornwall, with further stops scheduled for Falmouth, Newlyn and Padstow before the final leg from Ilfracombe in North Devon to Swansea. The climb of Pen Y Fan will follow a few days later.
All stops and dates are provisional and conditions dependent.
6) How has she been preparing?
Natasha spent the early part of this year months honing her navigation awareness, starting to improve her stamina and cardiovascular fitness in the swimming pool and spending more time on her Hart Walker, tackling hills in the Isle of Wight Downs.
She resumed sail training in May time, gradually increasing time on the water from 3-4 hours a day to 6-8 hours.
Much of this challenge is happening offshore, sailing Natasha hadn’t done a huge amount of prior to this year so she has been venturing out of the Solent to taste some of the different sea states and tidal considerations she will experience during the challenge.
She also did more land-based training, finding increasingly bigger hills for her to test out.
To ensure Natasha is a safe as possible during the trip, she, Phil and Gary have undertaken specific sea survival training at RNLI HQ in Poole.
7) How did she get into sailing?
Sailing has been Natasha’s big love ever since she was nine when she first went on holiday with the Calvert Trust as a passenger.
She then started sailing at home and spent two years sailing with the Even Keel Project and her local RYA Sailability.
After successfully testing a sip and puff system on a model boat, Gary set to work on engineering a system especially for Natasha.
8) How can I support her?
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
9) I want to know more!
You're in luck!
Check out this great Sea and Summit Challenge launch video.