Hamble, UK

Yesterday I watched the launch of one of the bravest adventurers I have met – Geoff Holt, a quadraplegic, is bidding to sail solo around the coast of Great Britain. The unique danger that he faces in this, , as a man paralysed from the chest down, was highlighted at his launch when things didn’t go quite according to plan.

Geoff had successfully launched his tiny, frail-looking trimaran from the Royal Southern Yacht Club, and set out across the Solent surrounded by a phalanx of media in a fleet of RIB’s. The wind was blowing briskly – about 20 knots – and he was flying along. One of the RIB’s, carrying a camera crew from Meridian TV (and me) moved across to get a better camera angle, and disaster struck.

Geoff’s trimaran hit the wake of the RIB, one of the side hulls lifted up off the water, and Geoff tipped out into the waves.

“He’s face down!” gasped the TV reporter. For what seemed like a very long time (probably about 30 seconds) to us, and must have seemed like an eternity to Geoff, he lay helpless face down in the water, before his support crew were alongside and plucked him to safety.

He seemed unfazed by the experience, smiling and giving a cheery thumbs-up to the onlookers. He and his boat returned to the Yacht Club so he could dry out and warm up after his dunking.

I suspect it will take a lot more than this to deter Geoff from his goal. Good luck to Geoff, and to Ian Clover, Sarah Outen, and the rest of the support crew as you set out on your big adventure, your own Personal Everest.

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