Please select your home edition
Allen Brothers

Celebrations as Natasha conquers solo Channel sailing challenge

by Karenza Morton, RYA 1 Jul 2013 19:41 BST 1 July 2013

There were smiles and there were tears as 16-year-old cerebral palsy sailor, Natasha Lambert, completed her Channel crossing challenge in just four and a half hours today.

Natasha, from West Cowes, was born with athetoid cerebral palsy, which affects her limbs as well as her speech and confines her to a wheelchair.

But to mark her 16th birthday on Friday 28 June, the determined teen, who last year sailed around the Isle of Wight, decided she wanted to undertake the 25-mile Channel crossing from Boulogne, France to Dover, Kent.

Although faced with fog when they got up this morning, Natasha, who sails her 21ft yacht, Miss Isle Too, with her mouth using a 'sip and puff' system operated by a straw inside a mountain bike helmet, eventually got underway at 7.30am UK time.

And with perfect, steady South Westerly breeze between 4-5 knots for the whole trip, albeit with swell up to two metres making the trip a bit bumpy, the Isle of Wight inspiration wasted no time in racing back to the UK around two hours ahead of schedule, arriving in Dover by 12.05pm.

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.

Mum, Amanda, insists sailing has given her daughter confidence to go and achieve in all the other areas of her life.

She added: "Sailing's given her a freedom, not just on the water and to experience being out with the elements, it's being able to make her own decisions, which gives her so much confidence. In so much of her life she relies on other people to make the decisions for her but in a sailing boat, she decides when she wants to turn, depower the boat and she's got that choice. That's given her the confidence to do it in everything she does; she's more likely now to say 'No Mum I want it to be done this way'. Her decision making has become a lot more precise and clear."

To support Natasha's Miss Isle 'The French Connection' challenge visit and for more information about RYA Sailability visit

(l-r) Gary, Natasha, Rachel and Amanda Lambert - photo © Karenza Morton

Related Articles

Getting out of isolation and back out on the water
First sailing adventure in 2021 since Covid-19 UK based charity Oceans of Hope UK are delighted to announce our first COVID safe and socially distanced sailing event since lockdown for people with Multiple Sclerosis took place at the end of April. Posted on 21 May
Virtual RYA Sailability Conference a huge success
More than 200 delegates came together at the weekend for a chance to regroup Keynote speaker and global ambassador for disability sport, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, inspired all those in attendance by reflecting on her life in sport and politics and how disabled people are more vocal and stronger together. Posted on 17 Feb
Funding for sailing projects tackling inequality
The £150,000 of National Lottery Funding was awarded to the RYA. Some 17 Sailability and OnBoard venues throughout England will receive individual grants of up to £10,000 for projects that aim to tackle inequalities in sport and help reduce the negative impact of COVID-19. Posted on 1 Dec 2020
RYA Sailability: From Lockdown and Beyond
Sailability clubs and centres have gone through eight months of upheaval From closing completely to re-opening under strict restrictions, Sailability clubs and centres, like so many sports organisations, have gone through eight months of upheaval. Posted on 12 Nov 2020
RYA Sailability release guide to autism & boating
Volunteers and instructors across the UK can now access new guidance Volunteers and instructors across the UK can now access new guidance designed to help ensure that people with autism have the best possible experience when getting out on the water. Posted on 24 Aug 2020
Megan Pascoe wins eSailing Multiclass Regatta
Sailability stars battle it out in a series of live races on virtual waters It was a win for Megan Pascoe from Frensham Pond Sailability when she sailed her way to victory in the RYA Sailability eSailing Multiclass Regatta final this Saturday. Posted on 4 Aug 2020
RYA Sailability Regatta goes virtual for 2020
Teaming up with leading eSailing provider Virtual Regatta Sailability sailors across the UK will still be able to compete in the RYA Sailability Multiclass Regatta as the event switches to virtual waters for the 2020 regatta. Posted on 19 Jun 2020
Helly Hansen becomes official clothing sponsor
To RYA Sailability and OnBoard programmes The RYA is delighted to announce Helly Hansen, the global sailing brand founded in Norway in 1877, as the official clothing supplier to the RYA Sailability and OnBoard programmes. Posted on 5 Sep 2019
Who says you can't enjoy sailing?
RYA supports campaign to challenge negative perceptions of disability The Activity Alliance's Who Says? campaign is calling time on negative perceptions about disability, inclusion and sport. It was created in response to the national charity's recent research, which explored people's attitudes on inclusive activity. Posted on 15 Jul 2019
Multihulls at the RYA Sailability Regatta
Challengers and Wetas at Weymouth For the first time since its inception in 2007, the venue for the RYA Sailability Multiclass regatta was not Rutland Sailing Club, instead we were at Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy with the racing taking place in Portland Harbour. Posted on 9 Jul 2019