INSPIRATIONAL sailor Natasha Lambert has stopped off in Poole after completing the first leg of a truly astonishing 430-mile challenge.
The teenager, who has cerebral palsy and no use of her hands, is sailing around the south west coast using only her mouth to operate a specially-designed yacht.
This 21-ft vessel, Miss Isle, is kitted out with a ‘sip and puff mechanism’ mounted inside a cycling helmet, designed and developed by her electrician dad Gary.
Natasha, who is being accompanied on the yacht by her coach Phil Devereux, arrived in Poole on Thursday after completing the first 25-mile leg of her challenge.
Amazingly, after sailing the coast from England to Wales, Natasha will then swap her yacht for a special walking aid to climb the highest peak in southern Britain – Pen y Fan in the Breacon Beacons, the same mountain Britain’s elite soldiers train on for entry into the SAS.
Natasha, who lives on the Isle of Wight, departed Cowes for Poole yesterday, as her ‘2014 Sea and Summit Challenge’ got underway.
Earlier in the week a special reception was held for the 17-year-old, attended by sailing legend Dame Ellen MacArthur.
Natasha, who is tackling the challenge to raise money for the RNLI, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and the Royal Yachting Association Foundation, will eventually sail 430-miles and climb 2,907ft during the challenge.
“I’m good, really excited,” said Natasha.
“It’s better to be able to help people otherwise it would be boring.”
Her proud mum Amanda said: “It is nice to get day one out of the way. It has been such a big build up with so much planning that to see Tash out there enjoying her sailing is what this whole challenge is about.
“It will be fantastic to stand on top of that mountain, look around and think how far Natasha’s actually come, both on this journey but through her life as well.”
Meanwhile, Ellen MacArthur said: “Tash really is an inspiration to all of us and I think what she’s about to undertake is a monumental challenge, but she’s up for it and I’m sure she will succeed.”