"Believe in yourself! Have faith in your
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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
Check your answers.
Match the vocabulary with the definitions.
2. to challenge
4. loo (Br. slang)
6. to crush
7. to cut short
9. pipe dream
10 against the odds
11. eat away at
Check your answers.
Listen and repeat to practise pronunciation.
Read the text again and explain what the following numbers refer to. Follow the