Thursday, January 7, 2010

Geoff Holt finishes his trip

The first quadriplegic yachstman to cross the Atlantic Ocean, Geoff Holt, has completed his trip.

The 42-year-old began his trip on December 10, 2008 on his boat named The Impossible Dream. He did all his own sailing. A cameraman and a care attendant were also aboard. He ran into light winds and engine problems during the trip.

Geoff sailed the Atlantic Ocean three times before, but this is the first time since his accident in 1984.

On his blog, he wrote:

"I want my arrival to be a celebration of the past 25 years not, as someone asked recently, "will it give you closure"?... That infers I somehow regret or lament the past 25 years. Absolutely not. Were it not for the accident, I would not have met Elaine, had Timothy or had such a wonderful life so, closure? No. Celebration? Yes."

Below is a video from day 3 of his voyage:


Matthew Smith said...

I notice there's no mention of Hilary Lister in either of the two BBC reports! (Holt was the first quad to sail around Britain; Hilary Lister was the first female and first high-level quad although she took a shorter route.) She is going to be speaking at the London boat show today (Friday).

Interestingly, when Hilary was in the news, people looked up while Holt's earlier effort was treated as a footnote to hers. Holt had some words to say about that here. His attitudes to his disability expressed in the last day or so are a marked change from what he says in that post.

Wheelie Catholic said...

Interesting that they don't mention Hilary Lister.

As for his earlier comments,it reminded me of an experience I had. I once had an aide who insisted that unless someone was bed ridden, they weren't quadriplegic. Turned out she knew someone with quadriplegia who chose not to use a wheelchair,so she based her opinion on that one experience and wasn't open to any information to the contrary LOL

Matthew Smith said...

That's pretty strange that someone thought that. Then again, I also thought it was sad that someone chose to stay in bed rather than use a wheelchair, much as I did when I heard of people staying in iron lungs for 50 years. I guess it's what people are used to but I can't see how remaining within the same four walls for 50 years is preferable, as they thought, to a ventilator.

I was a bit taken aback when I first read Geoff Holt's earlier blog, to be honest. Perhaps he thought the people whose conversation he caught two lines of were trivialising his disability, and maybe they thought he was "just disabled" (i.e. paraplegic) rather than a quad, but I would agree with anyone who said that someone with any functional arm movement was less disabled than someone who had none, particularly if the latter were in constant pain as well as being unable to move (the condition Hilary Lister has - RSD/CRPS - is a terribly painful condition even though it doesn't usually cause the degree of paralysis it has for her; here is a blog by someone who has it). And certainly many a high-level quad would dearly like to have even the level of mobility Holt has.

Also, his attitude seems to indicate that there isn't much separating him from Hilary Lister other than their sex. People keep saying "first female quadriplegic" but she is also the first quad without any arm function to do it. This is not to say that Hilary's achievement is superior, it's just different as they sailed their boats in different ways. Sports are gender-separated for obvious reasons, but those reasons don't apply with high-level quads because the functions which are stronger in men than women are equally absent in male and female high-level quads. Of course, the term "high-level quadriplegic" doesn't mean much to most people, which is perhaps the reason why "first female" was bandied around, and the fact that she is a good-looking woman with a pleasant manner who can be presented as a plucky disabled person was probably fairly important in gaining her a public profile, but in terms of what makes her achievement newsworthy and distinguished from his, her sex is much less important than her degree of disability.