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1 July 2013, 07:54
A severely disabled teenager from the Isle of Wight has sailed a yacht from France to England, using just her mouth.
Natasha Lambert, 16, was born with atheroid cerebral palsy, which affects her limbs as well as her speech and confines her to a wheelchair.
A challenge entitled The French Connection saw her sail her 21ft Mini Transat, Miss Isle Too, across the English Channel completely by herself using just her mouth to control the boat. She is raising money for the RNLI, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and Wetwheels Solent.
Natasha, who lives on the Isle of Wight with her family, completed the 25 mile voyage from Bologne, France to Dover in less than five hours.
Without the use of her hands, she sails the yacht with her mouth using a 'sip and puff' system - operated by a straw inside a mountain bike helmet - which has been engineered by her father.
"Natasha can't walk across the room unaided and yet on Monday she will be sailing from one country to another", explains her mum Amanda.
"When she is sailing Natasha is able to experience freedom and excitement and most importantly make decisions which she is unable to do in her everyday life.
"She's also grown in confidence and has made loads of friends. For her it's all about leaving her wheelchair on the pontoon and feeling free, she says it's wicked!"
Last year Natasha's sense for adventure inspired her to sail solo around the Isle of Wight raising over £17,000 for charity. This latest challenge saw her sailing across the Channel for the very first time with her coach Phil who was onboard for the voyage.
Gary Lambert, Natasha's farther will also be playing his part as the driver of her safety boat.
"From the moment she first experienced sailing as a passenger in a dinghy, Natasha fell in love with being out on the water. Since then she was determined to find a way to be able to sail herself and as a family it has become a huge part of our lives.
"I am immensely proud of Tasha. Every time she goes out on the water I'm proud of her. She surprises me every time she gets to another mile stone. I'm proud of her determination, her skill and her courage".
Special thanks go to Cowes Rotary, The Yacht Haven Cowes, Grapefruit Graphics, RYA Sailability and sponsors Artemis Investments.
Natasha started sailing through RYA Sailability which supports opportunities for people with a disability to experience sailing and to sail more regularly. For more information visit www.rya.org.uk/sailability.
Find out more information about Natasha Lambert at www.missisle.com