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"Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities!
Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy."
Norman Vincent Peale
 

Read the following text, and choose the right question for each of Geoff’s answers.

Geoff Holt’s professional sailing career was cut short when he had a swimming accident that left him a quadriplegic in 1984.
Geoff needed to change careers and managed to work his way up to the head of a marketing department for an international firm of accountants. In 1995 he helped set up the RYA Sailability, a disabled sailing charity which offers sailing opportunities to over 20,000 disabled people a year in the UK.
As a disabled sailor, Geoff has challenged himself to inspire others and create awareness for disabled sailing. In 2007, Geoff became the first quadriplegic to sail around Great Britain by himself. His accomplishments would inspire anyone, and Geoff’s next challenge is called Personal Atlantic.

 

1.

 

As a teenager, I had sailed more than 30,000 miles at sea including 3 trans-Atlantic crossings before I was 17. After my accident, I thought I would never sail again. It took me 7 years before I even got back in a boat again, but once I had a taste for it, there was no stopping me. In 1992 I became the first disabled person to sail single-handed the 70 miles around the Isle of Wight. I repeated this in 1997 and to this day I am the only disabled person to have done it twice.
In 2007, 23 years after my accident, I put together a project called Personal Everest, to sail single-handed around Great Britain. Sailing a succession of day-sails and sleeping overnight in a motorhome, it took me 109 days and my team and I visited 51 different destinations around the UK before arriving back to Southampton on 5th September 2007. By coincidence, it was 23 years to the day, almost to the minute, that I had broken my neck.
Although the prospect of sailing the Atlantic had originally seemed inconceivable, in completing Personal Everest I proved to myself that I could achieve the seemingly unachievable. I certainly have the experience and I know how to sail. The only real barrier to overcome would be finding the right boat. I’d heard of a wheelchair accessible, ocean-going catamaran that had been designed specifically for someone in a wheelchair. It had full push-button technology and, luckily for me, the owner said I could borrow it.

 

2.

 

Well, there are two things, really. First and foremost, I want to build upon Personal Everest which inspired many people to take a look at their own lives. I would hope that it will encourage some people, whatever their ability, to look at sailing as a possible sporting activity, but it goes a lot deeper than that. It is not so much about disability nor sailing. It is about doing something positive with your life. We only get one life, and if, through my actions, it helps inspire or motivate someone to realise that our only limits in life are the ones we set ourselves, then I will feel that I have achieved my main ambition.
I said there were 2 things. The second reason is a very personal one. Crossing the Atlantic again, for the 4th time, but my first as a quadriplegic is very important to me. For too long I have been living off memories of those earlier voyages. The sensation of remoteness, isolation and complete insignificance within the vastness of the ocean. The darkest of nights when the green phosphorescence from dolphins looks like torpedoes, the brightest of nights when the sky is a mass of silvery stars, more than anyone can imagine. For all these reasons, I want to live it again. And there is something quite significant about sailing back across the Atlantic to the same beach where I had my accident so many years ago, the last place I ever walked. The thing is, this time I will be returning as a quadriplegic yachtsman.

 

3.

 

When I finished my autobiography, Walking on Water, last year, I took a couple of days and re-read my own story. I came to the conclusion that sailing had been the thread which has been running through my life. It does not govern my life, nor did I set out to make it part of my life, it is just the way it is. I suppose you could call it “the calling of the sea”, and I definitely feel at home when I am on the sea, near it or when I can see it.

One of the most memorable feelings which affected me most was that day in 1991 when, for the first time in 7 years, and my first time as a disabled person, I got into a boat and sailed it by myself. I had this overwhelming sense of independence. For the first time since my accident, I was making the decision whether to go right or left, slower or faster. I had got used to either being pushed in my wheelchair wherever the person pushing me wanted to go, or I needed to ask to go right, left, backwards, forwards or stop. As I was sitting in my boat, with the waves splashing over me and the spray in my eyes, I suddenly realised that I felt free again. I had effectively left my disability on land and I was now actually making my own decisions. Time after time I see that same sense of independence and freedom whenever I see a disabled person go sailing. I suppose, without realising it, sailing is my life.

 

4.

 

Undoubtedly, the mental torment of being dependent on others is my biggest challenge in life. That might surprise some people who think it would more likely be my disability, but it isn’t. I can deal with the disability. Of course it is not ideal, but you can manage your life so it becomes less difficult to exist as a disabled person. The one thing I cannot change is my reliance on others to help me get washed, to get dressed, to use the loo, to prepare food. I hate that. At times it eats away at me and it is the one thing, above all other, that I would change if I could.
The other challenges are not a lot different to those faced by anyone else, regardless of ability. They are challenges of finding work, earning enough money to provide a comfortable standard of living, having relationships etc., the list goes on. Of course, being disabled, only adds to the challenge, but you just have to get on with it.

 

5.

 

"No Excuses". It is so easy to find excuses not to do things but I believe we should learn to mentally challenge these negative thoughts. The feeling of success, when you accomplish something against the odds, is like no other.

 

6.

 

Of course, the easy answer is to say “go for it”, but it is rarely this simple. It might seem a very technical process, but I would suggest one of the first things is to ask yourself whether the challenge is a genuinely realistic one. Is it achievable? There’s a big difference between a challenge and a pipe dream. Embarking on a pipe dream will do nothing but crush your self-confidence. It is important to try and be objective and to do the feasibility studies and risk-assessments, never stop asking yourself questions like; “how”? and “what if”? You must plan with your head, not your heart. If you are satisfied that you have done all the planning and that you have done everything you can in order to minimize risk to yourself and those you are relying upon to help you, then, in that case, "go for it".

Text adapted from the article: “Interview with Sailor Geoff Holt” takeonlifenow.com

Answers Check your answers.

Match the vocabulary with the definitions.

1. firm
2. to challenge
3. accomplishment
4. loo (Br. slang)
5. thread
6. to crush
7. to cut short
8. awareness
9. pipe dream
10 against the odds
11. eat away at

Answers Check your answers.

Listen and repeat to practise pronunciation.
   

Read the text again and explain what the following numbers refer to. Follow the example.

Example: 1984 -
1. 1995 -
2. 20,000 -
3. 2007 -
4. 70 -
5. 7 -
6. 109 -
7. 51 -
8. 5th -

Answers Check your answers.

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