British quadriplegic sailor Hilary Lister and Oman’s Nashwa Al Kindi have set out today (Tuesday, March 11) from Mumbai to Muscat on an extraordinary trans-ocean crossing which will be the first to be completed by a severely paralysed woman and the first to be recorded by an Arab female sailor.
The voyage is driven by Oman Sail and sponsored by Mistal - Ajit Khimji Group and United Engineering Services (UES). Speaking on the start of the voyage, Dharmesh A. Khimji, Managing Director, Mistal - Ajit Khimji Group said: 'This voyage is an example of two people working together to achieve a common dream. Nashwa and Hilary are exceptional women, we are proud to be supporting them on this inspirational journey and we wish them fair winds.'
Hilary, 42, suffers from degenerative disease called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and is paralysed from the neck down. She became one of Britain’s best-known sailors in 2009 when she sailed solo around Britain to set a new disabled record.
Nashwa, 32, is a sailing instructor at Oman Sail who started sailing in 2011 and has since won the 'Coach of the Year' award at Oman Sail’s Sailor of the Year Awards 2013 and the prestigious ISAF President Development Award 2013 for outstanding achievement in the field.
Eight months ago, Hilary visited Oman to give a series of motivational talks at Oman Sail and the two women hit it off immediately and started to make plans. The trip was scheduled to start on March 10th, but was delayed by 24 hours to clear customs.
The pair set sail from Mumbai on a stable 28-foot Dragonfly trimaran and are expected to return to Muscat on March 19th.. The boat has been specially adapted to take the sip and puff sailing technology that Hilary relies on to control the boat. The sip and puff technology is a method used to send signals to a device using air pressure by inhaling or exhaling into a straw. Hilary will use three straws to control steering, sails and navigation.
During the 850 nautical mile voyage the two women will operate a watch system to ensure safe and steady progress. During the day, a watch will be six hours and at night three or four hours with breaks for drinks and meals. When Nashwa is on watch, she will switch off Hilary’s system and operate the boat manually.
Speaking about the voyage, Nashwa Al Kindi said, 'I’m doing this to inspire the Omani people - if I can do this then there is no reason why anyone shouldn’t go after their dreams.'
Hilary Lister added: 'If we get more than 10 to 15 knots it will be a fantastic ride – we will be strapping ourselves to the boat and loving every second of it.'
The two female sailors will be accompanied onboard by Oman Sail’s Niall Myant, a qualified Yachtmaster with extensive offshore sailing experience, who will help in the event of an emergency and a carer to attend to Hilary’s medical needs. Neither will assist in the sailing of the boat.