Disabled sailor Geoff Holt begins record-breaking UK circumnavigation

Geoff Holt UK circumnavigation

After months of preparation, quadriplegic adventurer Geoff Holt MBE DL has set sail from St. Katherine’s Dock, London, in a record-breaking challenge to circumnavigate the UK coastline.

The official ‘Finishing the Dream’ journey will call at 17 accessible ports across the country in a fully accessible Cheetah Marine power catamaran, aiming to raise £1.2m for Holt’s charity Wetwheels Foundation.

Holt was paralysed in a swimming accident in 1984 and has spent 40 years in a wheelchair. In 2007, he became the first disabled person to sail single-handed around Great Britain. In 2009, he was the first quadriplegic to sail across the Atlantic Ocean unassisted.

Holt, who founded Wetwheels in 2011, hopes to raise funds for four new Wetwheels boats, offering life-changing experiences to over 5,000 profoundly disabled people each year.

His charity challenge is being sponsored by UK-based RS Marine Group, alongside the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, law firm Hugh James and Raymarine.

Geoff Holt’s UK circumnavigation challenge

Geoff Holt UK circumnavigation

Holt and his team will head west along the south coast, calling in at various ports to help raise awareness of his adventure. He will also call in at the eight current Wetwheels locations that deliver thousands of boat trips around the UK each year to disabled people.

The route is estimated to take him four to six weeks to complete. It will be undertaken in a disability-accessible Wetwheels Cheetah Marine power catamaran, with a small support team following the journey. Stops will incorporate some of the UK’s most famous ports, including Dover, Falmouth, Holyhead, Bangor, Oban, Whitby, and Lowestoft, finishing up back in the UK’s capital.

The Lord Mayor of London, Michael Mainelli, joined Holt and his team before they departed from St. Katharine’s Dock. “Throughout the journey, Geoff and the team will be sampling and collecting microplastics along the UK coastline as part of the Suzuki Clean Ocean Project,” says Mainelli.

“As one of the greatest threats to our oceans and marine wildlife, which is worth more than $1.5tn to world economies per year, it’s integral that the city of London is at the forefront of tackling the challenge of microplastics and providing a hub for thought leaders to connect.

“Wetwheels’ work at the forefront of scientific advances that drive improvements of our environment while meeting its incredible objective of opening the water for those who otherwise are unable to access it, is an inspiration to us all.”

Geoff Holt UK circumnavigation
Lord Mayor Michael Mainelli (left) joined Holt and his team before departure

As he embarked on his final Wetwheels challenge, Holt said: “Today is the start of the next chapter in my life and possibly my biggest challenge to date. Having spent 40 years in a wheelchair, paralysed from the chest down, the sea has been my salvation, the freedom and independence I get when I am afloat, I can forget about my disability. I have devoted most of my life to promoting the opportunities and benefits sailing offers disabled people and now this is my opportunity to spread that message throughout the United Kingdom.

“I am really looking forward to the next few weeks although I am very much aware of the challenges ahead, not least the physical and mental impact on myself on the boat for up to eight hours a day but also the massive logistical challenge for our shore team as we travel around the UK.

“The 1,500-mile journey will be a test for not only my physical endurance but also a mental challenge as I juggle the logistics of navigating through some of the most dangerous and congested waters in the world.

“Only when I cross the finish line back in London and we hit our fundraising targets, will I allow myself to relax.”

Wetwheels Foundation

Wetwheels foundation

The Wetwheels Foundation offers opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people of all ages – including those with multiple, profound and complex impairments – to access the water in custom boats designed specifically for wheelchair access.

Currently Holt has amassed a fleet of eight vessels around the UK and aims to add another four as a result of this challenge and continue to reach an additional 5,000 disabled people each year.

More information about the challenge, including information about donating, is available at the Finishing the Dream website.

One response to “Disabled sailor Geoff Holt begins record-breaking UK circumnavigation”

  1. Simon Hedley says:

    Such a wonderful cause! I hope people get behind Geoff and his challenge to help him reach his target!

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