A few months ago we shared the story of 23-year-old sailor Natasha Lambert, who was preparing to sail across the Atlantic using only her breath. Natasha would sail the 46-ft Nautitech Open Blown Away with a ‘Sip and Puff’ — a device that is operated by sipping and puffing on a straw. According to Yachting Monthly, Natasha, who has quadriplegic athetoid cerebral palsy, left Gran Canaria, Spain, as part of the 2020 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) fleet. And on December 11, the skipper and her crew crossed the finish line in St. Lucia after 18 days, 21 hours and 39 minutes at sea.
Natasha’s father Gary designed and built the first sip-and-puff control system in 2012. The system was initially installed aboard smaller vessels and enabled Natasha to sail around the coast of the British Isles. It was later adapted to fit Blown Away, the largest vessel ever to be controlled by breath. The newest iteration of the sip-and-puff system accommodates two helm positions, links up with steering and sail trim as well as the autopilot, and allows Natasha full access and visibility while controlling the boat.
The family hopes to produce the Sip and Puff commercially, making it available to any sailor who would benefit from its use. But first they will spend some time in the Caribbean visiting local schools and community groups, teaching them how to use the sip-and-puff system.
Natasha hoped to raise £30,000 during the crossing for three charities: the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust and her own charity, the MissIsle School of Sip Puff Sailing, which offers sip-and-puff sailing trips to other young people. If you would like to donate you can do so here.