Sailing Disabled Around the World

Published on January 29th, 2016

He is the disabled sailor who took on the Atlantic alone. And now the British sailor has set his sights even higher. Geoff Holt, who was awarded an MBE in 2010 for services to disabled sailing, plans to circumnavigate the globe in an unprecedented endeavour.

The 49 year old who lives in Wallington, Fareham, explained the inspiration behind his Accessible Oceans project: “I’ve done a lot of sailing adventures and I’m very keen to make our oceans more accessible. I’m quite familiar with people who sail on lakes and rivers, but the opportunities for disabled people on oceans around the world are very few.

“I propose to sail around the world in a wheelchair on a yacht for three reasons; to promote yacht recreation, vocation and therapy. I’ve been lucky enough to sail the oceans several times and I know how special it is. I’m conscious that disabled people are excluded so this will redress that – it’s a global problem. At each of the stopover points we will promote the project and meet disabled people around the world.

“Fifteen per cent of the world’s population have a disability but I could count on one hand the number of publicly available boats capable to taking a wheelchair user to sea, be that for a holiday, for therapy or even to inspire them to make a career in the marine sector. My Accessible Oceans project will identify key hubs around the world where we will locate adapted boats so disabled people can enjoy what non-disabled sailors enjoy already.”

Beginning in 2017, the 27,000 mile journey will start and finish in Monaco, with around 12 stops along the way. The boat he will use is a 65ft trimaran. “It’s specially designed and customised for me to sail and live in,” explained Holt. “I’ll be in the wheelchair during the day but can be lifted into bed. All the ropes and electronics come into a central point where I can push a button to control them.”

The Neel 65 will be built by a French company in La Rochelle at a cost of 1.3 million Euros. The plan is to sail without any support vessels, but with two carers on board who will cater for Geoff’s very particular needs. They will be carers first, trained in spinal injury care, and sailors second.

Full story on the Daily Echo…click here.

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