Introducing our chosen charity for BoatLife 2023

20 Oct 2022

Barrier free boating with Wetwheels.

SBS BoatLife are proud to announce our official charity is Wetwheels Foundation, conceived and founded by disabled yachtsman, Geoff Holt MBE DL.

“There is something very special about being on the water.
For someone with a disability, being at sea offers unparalleled
freedoms. Your mind and imagination fill with things that
didn’t seem possible.”
– Geoff Holt MBE DL

For many of us, joining a boat trip is something we love – enjoying marine life, including dolphin-spotting in Cornwall or seal-watching, seeing the staggering white cliffs of Dover from the water, or simply sharing magical moments with friends and carers. It can provide an unforgettable experience. However, as a disabled person there are many barriers to participation and the majority of boats simply aren’t equipped to carry passengers in wheelchairs, or those with complex needs.

Inspirational yachtsman Geoff Holt MBE, who has been championing and working with young adults and the disabled community for over 30 years. He knows the know the vital importance of inclusive opportunities to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Geoff had already accomplished so much by the time he was eighteen years old. He had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean three times, completed several solo voyages and sailed over 30,000 nautical miles. And then his life changed. All hopes, dreams and expectations of earning his livelihood as a professional yachtsman were destroyed after diving into the Caribbean Sea and breaking his neck.

Geoff spent a year in hospital and then, with characteristic spirit, he retrained in a different career and went on to lead the marketing department of an international firm for 12 years, but eventually returned to his first love of sailing.

Geoff entered the history books in 2007 when he sailed solo around Great Britain. And then in January 2010, Geoff became the first quadriplegic to sail unassisted across the Atlantic. The 3,000mile journey took four weeks to complete sailing a purpose-built 60ft catamaran ‘Impossible Dream’.

In June 2010, Geoff was awarded an MBE for services to disabled sailing and then in early 2011, Geoff received the coveted YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year that Geoff considers the ‘Knighthood of Yachting.’Wetwheels first boat, Wetwheels Solent, based in Portsmouth, made her debut in 2011. This was followed by Wetwheels Jersey in 2013, with Wetwheels Hamble launched in May 2016. In 2018 Wetwheels Yorkshire, based in Whitby and Wetwheels South East, located in Dover opened. Wetwheels South West launched in September 2020 based in Falmouth. The boat was supported by Sport England and we are now one of their strategic delivery partners for disability and inclusion. Our next boat will be Edinburgh later in 2022, and they are currently raising the final funds required to achieve this landmark.

Maritime Adventures

A Wetwheels experience is an incredible one, that challenges self-perceptions, extends horizons and opens up new opportunities. By offering the opportunity to experience this as active participants they build confidence and improve physical and mental wellbeing. We ensure full wheelchair access to the boat – including a ramp to the steering position and adapted steering controls. All are active participants, rather than simply passengers, with the opportunity to steer the vessel and learn seamanship alongside peers, friends and families!

We are delighted to be the official charity for BoatLife Live 2023. This will be our first visit and we are excited to meet those attending The NEC to meet friends, both old and new, from the maritime industry.  Thank you for choosing to support Wetwheels and we look forward to coming to Birmingham to share our Vision of ensuring barrier-free access to the water.
– Neil Wilson, Chief Executive

Wetwheels depends on the dedication of their experienced teams to run each location. If you’d like to be part of a barrier-free Wetwheels experience you can get in touch to arrange your visit or book via the website.

We look forward to welcoming Wetwheels aboard the SBS BoatLife show in February!

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