British yachtsman Geoff Holt MBE has won the coveted title of Yachting Journalist Association (YJA) Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year for 2010.
The Award was made for a series of inspirational sailing feats culminating in a single-handed trans-Atlantic crossing. Hampshire based Geoff, 44, became the first quadriplegic to sail across the Atlantic when he sailed into the British Virgin Islands on January 7, 2010, overcoming personal adversity and achieving his own impossible dream.
The crossing took 28 days to complete the 2,700 mile voyage back to very beach where he broke his neck spinal injury 25 years earlier. Geoff was also the first disabled person to sail solo around Great Britain in 2007 and has been awarded an MBE for services to disabled sailing.
On his accepting his award, Geoff announced his next major project, to become the first quadriplegic to sail around the world.
On his Blog, Geoff paid tribute to those who supported him;
"A huge thank you to the Yachting Journalists Association for voting me winner of the Pantaenius YJA Yachtsman of the Year trophy. It is the biggest accolade in our sport and even now, the morning after, I'm sitting here at my desk looking at this magnificent trophy, grinning from ear to ear. The list of past winners is humbling; Dame Ellen Macarthur, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Dee Caffari, Sir Francis Chichester, the list reads like a "who's who" in the history of yachting in our country - I am really so proud.
"Whilst thanking people, I'd also like to thank Susana Scott, the lady who provided my care across the Atlantic - without her help, I couldn't have made the voyage last year. Oh yes, not forgetting Mike and Martine who loaned me Impossible Dream - oh no, I've started naming names, where do I stop? Huge apologies to those I've not named, you know who you are.
"In my acceptance speech (I promise you, unrehearsed), I made the point that sailing isn't all about racing and hopefully the YJA, in awarding me the honour, share my views. That's not a swipe at racing - we all love to compete - me particularly, but sometimes we need to step back and think what it is about sailing that we love so much. I think it is simply that it gives us an opportunity to learn about ourselves and to have the privilege of being part of such a precious environment using only the elements; it's very empowering and, excuse the cliché, it is the most level of all sporting playing fields. In what other sport could a quadriplegic's name sit alongside such a prestigious list of yachting heroes on a trophy like this? I hope it encourages all sailors, whether they be "superstars" competing in the Southern Ocean or week-end sailors on a local lake, to appreciate how much pleasure we get out of our sailing and to give something back. Having a few "superstars" of our sport give a little bit of their time to help promote sailing and, for example, the work of RYA Sailability, would be a great way of giving back. I've been doing my little bit for nearly two decades and it gives me as much enjoyment helping others to go sailing as it does when I'm out on the water.
"Now begins the really hard work. Winning yesterday has strengthened my resolve to get my around the world sailing challenge running. Hopefully prospective sponsors will see my CV and will want to be part of the next great adventure. Getting to the starting line is going to be my toughest challenge yet and I need to call about that resolve everyone keeps talking about".
Find out more
To read more about Geoff and his adventures visit www.geoffholt.com or tweet him at Twitter @wetwheels
Geoff has been a member of RYA Council, been an RYA Sailability Chairman & Trustee for 8 years and aIso sits on RYA PSG Committee.