NATASHA IS YJA APOLLO YOUNG SAILOR OF THE YEAR  

 


Plucky Natasha Lambert, the 16-year-old from Cowes, who won the coveted YJA Apollo Young Sailor of the Year title in January is planning a new sailing mission for the summer.

Natasha was born with athetoid cerebral palsy, which affects her limbs and confines her to a wheelchair and revealed her newest sailing challenge at the .RYA Suzuki Dinghy Show this month. She is calling her  incredible 2014 sailing challenge: ‘Sea and Summit’

She plans to sail from her hometown of Cowes, Isle of Wight, to embark on a month-long challenge sailing her 21ft Mini Transat, Miss Isle Too, single-handed down the South West coast of England to Wales.

The challenge is all the more remarkable because Natasha does not have use of her hands and sails her yacht using her mouth to operate a ‘sip and puff’ mechanism that was engineered by her father and is based on a straw mounted inside a cycling helmet. Having completed the sailing part, Natasha will then swap her boat for her special walking aid, called a Hart Walker and will climb Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons, the highest peak in Britain south of the Snowdonia mountain range.

Accompanied by her coach Phil Devereux, the Sea and Summit challenge will see Natasha sail 430 miles and climb 2,907ft whilst 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. This will not be Natasha’s first challenge.

Last year, her sense for adventure inspired her to sail across the English Channel from Boulogne to Dover, a voyage which she completed in just four hours, and which won her praise from sailing journalists worldside and earned her the YJA Apollo Young Sailor award. In 2012 she conquered her first challenge sailing around the Isle of Wight.

Her dad Gary said: “We’re all really excited to officially launch Sea and Summit. It’s going to be Natasha’s hardest challenge yet but she’s determined to do it. Natasha can’t walk across the room unaided and to think she is planning to sail over 400 miles and then climb to the top of a mountain is just incredible.

"For Tash sailing means freedom, control and being able to do the things that maybe she isn’t able to do when she’s not sailing.”

It was to mark her 16th birthday on  June 28, this determined teen, who has also sailed around the Isle of Wight, decided she wanted to undertake the 25-mile Channel crossing from Boulogne, France to Dover, sailing her 21ft yacht, Miss Isle Too.

Natasha decided early in life that there was nothing she loved more than the feel of the wind in her face – and you might well ask how a young woman with such disability has managed such achievements, including the fact that is she knows how to sail!   

She completed her “French Connection challenge” around two hours ahead of schedule and raised substantial sums for three charities – The Marie Curie Cancer Trust, the RNLI and Wet Wheels.

Natasha started sailing through RYA Sailability which supports opportunities for people with a disability to experience sailing and to sail more regularly