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T Clewring - Cruising

Natasha can't walk, but just sailed the English Channel solo at 16

by Sail-World Cruising Round-up on 3 Jul 2013
Natasha Lambert in the boat she will use to cross the English Channel .. .
She can't walk across a room unaided, but, at 16 she's just sailed the English Channel solo. This brave British sailing enthusiast celebrated her 16th birthday with a solo sail across The Channel in just four and a half hours— using just her mouth to control her 21ft yacht.

Natasha Lambert was born with cerebral palsy, which affects her limbs and speech.

She uses a wheelchair, which she left at home during the challenge.

Natasha left from Boulogne this week and beat her planned seven hour journey to Dover by two hours in her specially adapted boat, Miss Isle Too.

She left in spite of quite heavy fog, and with perfect, steady South Westerly breeze between 4-5 knots for the whole passage, Natasha arrived in Dover triumphant.

Natasha's ‘The French Connection' challenge was raising money for three charities - The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, the RNLI and WetWheels.

Dad Gary, who was alongside Natasha in a support boat for the whole crossing, admitted it had been an emotional day.

He said: 'There's an awful lot of emotion. Tasha was worried she couldn't complete it so we had to give her some support and just say to her ‘Do what you do', and that's what she did. She came across in a real fast time, faster than we expected, and we're incredibly proud of her. I live with her, I'm with her every day and what she's done today is immense and she's so humble about it.'

Natasha was also accompanied on her trip in Miss Isle Too, by her coach Phil Devereux, with mum Amanda, six-year-old sister, Rachel, and grandparents Kenneth and Margaret Lambert motoring alongside her in the WetWheels powerboat, driven by Geoff Holt, who himself made history in 2007 when he became the first quadriplegic yachtsman to sail solo around Great Britain.

Natasha started sailing with the Even Keel Project based at UKSA in Cowes and then though her local RYA Sailability club for two years.

On arrival back in Dover, Natasha was greeted with a congratulations reception hosted by the Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club, where she was made an Honorary Member of the club and presented with a club ensign.

Last September, Natasha sailed solo round the Isle of Wight, raising more than £8,000 for charity. Her mother commented after Natasha's current achievement that the biggest personal gain from the voyage was the confidence that it would give her for other areas of her life.

To donate visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/missisle

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