Australian sets sights on solo Antarctic sailing record


The last time Australian sailor Lisa Blair sailed solo around Antarctica, she faced one of the worst scenarios on a boat in the freezing Southern Ocean.

It was dark in 2017 and she was three-quarters around the frozen continent when she suffered a dramatic dismasting after a wire gave way.

“You end up with a spear 22 meters long, tangled and tied to your boat in difficult conditions…it’s a very dangerous and risky scenario,” says the 36-year-old.

“It’s something that I was very lucky to be able to survive.”

After scavenging fuel from a passing container ship and motoring to Cape Town, Blair started the voyage again and made history by becoming the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica with one stopover.

Now she is preparing to take on the waters again when she sets sail from Albany in southern Western Australia on Sunday aboard her 15m yacht Climate Action Now.

His goal is to break the current speed record of just over 102 days for the fastest person to sail solo around Antarctica, held by Russian Fedor Konyukhov.

Although traumatic, the 2017 trip gave Blair confidence that she has what it takes to handle whatever the next three months entail.

“I planned for dismasting, just as I planned for massive collisions and flooding and every possible conceivable scenario,” she said.

“In theory, I should be able to succeed and overcome any challenges I face.”

Isolated on a boat in the middle of the ocean, Blair said her world would come down to “eating, sleeping, sailing and what’s the weather like”.

“There’s a real simplicity to the lifestyle there…that part of the trip is always very enjoyable.”

This time it will be a little more complicated as it has partnered with a number of scientific organizations keen to better understand the most remote part of the world.

“There’s not a lot of data on microplastics sampling in the Southern Ocean, let alone a complete circumnavigation of the globe,” she said, listing a number of planned experiments.

“For me to be able to provide this as an added benefit of my campaign to our scientific community is a big driving factor.”

The cover of Climate Action Now is decorated with multicolored digital post-it notes bearing messages about the environmental actions taken by the people Blair met.

“We all have the power to create change, it starts with one small step,” she says.

Blair is due to leave Sunday at 10 a.m. local time.


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