Record-breaking yachtsman Keith White talks about being swept overboard, his Atlantic crossing and losing his arm in a near-fatal accident
He may have crossed oceans solo, but it was a storm off the coast of Ireland that swept one-armed yachtsman Keith White overboard. The sailor – who has since become the first disabled man to cross the Atlantic unassisted – was circumnavigating the British Isles against the prevailing winds back in 2005, when he was hit by a force-11 gale.
His yacht capsized several times in the 10m-high waves, and when the RNLI lifeboat finally reached him 21 hours later, he was thrown overboard, managing to somehow climb back on to his yacht to safety before he was towed back in. Even with three cracked ribs, he refused to halt his challenge. “I discharged myself and got the sails fixed by the end of the week and sailed back home,” he tells me over the phone from his home on the Isle of Wight. “I was frightened to get sailing again, but I had to do it.”