Mumbai (20 March 2014) – British quadriplegic sailor Hilary Lister (42), and Omani Nashwa Al Kindi (32) have sailed into the record books aboard a 28ft Dragonfly trimaran to claim two new trans-ocean records.
Although they crossed the finish line in Oman last night, the official welcome took place at The Wave, Muscat earlier today. A huge gathering turned out to honour the two girls who now hold records for the first ever severely paralysed woman and the first Arab female sailor to make a trans-oceanic crossing.
The 850-nautical mile journey across the Indian Ocean started from Mumbai, India on Tuesday 11 March and took nine days to complete. The course generally took them up wind with winds reaching no more than 10-15kts, and the average boat speed was 5-6kts. They did however, encounter a 36-hour stop to refuel and carry out a repair to the Code Zero sail, which delayed their overall finish time.
Lister, who suffers from a degenerative disease – Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy – and who is paralysed from the neck down, can now add this record to the already impressive solo round Britain disabled record she set in 2009.
Lister commented: “I am obviously delighted to have set this record with Nashwa. It was a truly amazing journey, particularly the arrival into Oman. More than anything, however, this trip has highlighted that longer offshore legs are a lot easier for me than shorter legs where I am constantly getting on and off the boat.”
The team, powered by Oman Sail and sponsored by Mistal and United Engineering Services, with support from Oman Air, GAC Pindar, Harken, Ocean Safety and Raymarine, were sailing a specially adapted Dragonfly. This boat incorporates a unique sip and puff sailing system that sends signals to a device using air pressure. By inhaling or exhaling into a straw Lister is able to steer, trim sails and navigate.
Lister continued: “Thanks to Roger Crabtree’s simple ‘plug and play’ sip and puff system, I think we proved that a long distance oceanic passage is highly achievable. This particular creation means I can transfer it from one boat to another, which has inspired me to think about future challenges. In the short term, however, it will be a case of trying to help other people with similar difficulties to me, get on the water by making this system available.”
Commenting on the highlight of the voyage, Lister said it has to be the phosphorescence: “Being on the ocean at night was simply sensational. I will never forget the amount of phosphorescence. The boat looked like it was lit up from underneath and, when I put my hand in the water it was still glowing five minutes later.
“The funniest moment I had was when a flying fish hit me slap, bang in the middle of the face. It was a hilarious moment, and we still laugh about it now. As well as the serious sailing, we had a lot of fun.”
Lister’s teammate, Al Kindi believes that becoming the first Arab female to set a new sailing record will hopefully inspire other women to follow their dreams. Al Kindi, who is a dinghy sailing instructor at Oman Sail, only started sailing in 2011 but instantly adapted to sport. In a short period of time she was recognised as the “Coach of the Year” in Oman Sail’s Sailor of the Year Awards 2013, and presented with the ISAF President Development Award 2013 for outstanding achievement.
As she stepped ashore she said: “I am very happy and proud to achieve this goal. It was always my dream to sail offshore in a big boat. I am sure, and I hope that what we have done will be an inspiration for Omani and non-Omani women to go for their dreams and goals. For me personally, it has strengthened my ultimate goal, which is to sail solo around the world one day.”
Commenting on the trip’s most memorable moments, Al Kindi said: “I will always remember the little chit-chats I had with Hilary on deck at night. She is a good, experienced sailor and she taught me a lot and she is my biggest inspiration.”
The girls were keen to thank the Navy and Yachting Association of India who played a big role in the logistics of the boat’s departure from India, particularly Captain Jaiswal and Malav Shroff. Oman Air’s spacious business class seats were also complimented for allowing Hilary to travel comfortably from Muscat to Mumbai before embarking on the journey.
Commenting on their accomplishment, Dharmesh A. Khimji, Managing Director at Mistal – Ajit Khimji Group said, “We, as a company, are incredibly proud to have supported Hilary and Nashwa on their amazing voyage. To have succeeded in what they set out to do is fantastic and we hope what they have achieved will inspire others, particularly women, to push the boundaries in all aspects of life in the future. The journey was an outstanding example of human endeavor and team working. We wish Hilary and Nashwa all the best for all their future adventures. ”