Sip and puff sailing teen Natasha ‘Miss Isle’ Lambert declared she ‘didn’t want to leave her boat' after completing the final sailing leg of her extraordinary Sea and Summit challenge yesterday (Tuesday 19 August).
Just like her heroine, Dame Ellen MacArthur, after her epic round the world sail, the 17-year-old, who has cerebral palsy and controls her boat only by breathing through a straw in a specially-engineered bicycle helmet designed by her dad Gary, was reluctant to leave the 21ft yacht on which she has completed her incredible month long sailing voyage, as she arrived into her final destination of Swansea Marina with a huge smile on her face.
Having previously sailed around the Isle of Wight and across the English Channel, Sea and Summit is Natasha’s biggest challenge yet. In total she has sailed her specially-designed boat, Miss Isle Too, 430 miles around the South West coast of England to Wales, accompanied by her support team including mum Amanda, dad Gary and little sister, Rachel.
During the sailing part of her challenge Natasha has faced conditions, which would have tested even the most experienced sailors, including a rounding of Land’s End, the headland which has feared sailors down the ages.But her challenge is not complete - in the coming days, Natasha will swap her boat for her special walking aid, called a Hart Walker, to climb the 2,907ft Pen Y Fan, the highest peak in Southern Britain.
Natasha’s mum Amanda, said: “We were told years ago that Natasha’s life would be different but we didn’t expect anything like this! It’s spectacular. We feel elated, chuffed and so proud of Natasha."
Her coach, Phil Devereux, added: “We left Cowes on 24 July, almost a month ago, and all our hard work and training has paid off. She’s grown so much as a sailor, sooner or later she won’t need me anymore, which is the job of any coach training athlete. From my point of view we are now seeing the fruits of our labours.
"Now it’s all about the mountain so we’re setting up for that, making our preparations and we can’t wait to complete the challenge and get to the top of that mountain.”
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.
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