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The world loses an incredible sea captain
Hilary Lister used to describe sailing as ‘flying,’ enabling her to experience the world in a way that surpassed her disability – so much so that she not only set numerous records and win multiple awards and accolades, but also became one of the most inspirational solo sailors the world has seen.
A passion found
Lister suffered from reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a condition that began to develop at age 15. However, even at that age, Lister’s unquenchable thirst for life and her unflinching resolve to achieve her goals knew no bounds. She studied at Oxford University, where she attempted to complete a PhD in biochemistry, but the eventual loss of her arms prevented her from achieving this. In her thirties, Lister discovered sailing in Canterbury at the Westbere Sailing Opportunities. Her love for the sport was found after just minutes at sea.
Defying all odds
With her inspiration found in Emma Richard’s Around Alone race (a solo trip around the world), Lister wanted to sail across the Channel, and she was determined to do it solo. Andrew Pindar, Richard’s own sponsor, became unwaveringly invested in Lister’s aspirations and funded a Soling rigged with sip-mouth controls she could use to man her boat solo, from her wheelchair. Lister’s first successful solo trip was in 2007, when she sailed around the Isle of Wight, followed by her journey around the coast of Britain in 2009.
Defining devotion and true character
Around the time of another successful trip from Mumbai to Muscat, this time with a team, Lister started Hilary’s Dream Fund, in the hopes of helping people who are also disabled, or disadvantaged to achieve their ambitions. She went on to win numerous awards, such as the Royal Cruising Club’s Seamanship Award and a Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year Award. She was an unquestionable inspiration to every life she touched and to every person who was a part of the nautical adventure that was her life. The seafaring world is short of a truly incredible captain.