Sailor home with solo record

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

SYD­NEY, Aus­tralia — An Aus­tralian sailor re­turned to her home in Queens­land on Tues­day evening af­ter be­com­ing the first woman in his­tory to cir­cum­nav­i­gate Antarc­tica solo.

Lisa Blair be­gan the 184day jour­ney in Jan­uary and had to bat­tle a num­ber of near-death ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing the voy­age.

“The most amount of wind I en­coun­tered was 70 knots,” the 32-year-old said on Wed­nes­day.

“Which to put it into per­spec­tive, you would lose the roof of your house at about 60 knots.

“I also had waves the size of a three-story build­ing, se­vere knock­downs and a bliz­zard at sea.”

When Blair orig­i­nally set off, she had her sights set on break­ing the 2008 record for the fastest solo, unas­sisted and non­stop trip around the con­ti­nent, set by Rus­sian Fe­dor Konyukhov.

But 72 days into the ef­fort, dis­as­ter oc­curred when the ves­sel’s mast snapped in 7-me­ter swells.

“When it came down it was dark, I heard a mas­sive bang. It was deaf­en­ing, the sound, it was so ag­gres­sive, so loud,” Blair said.

“When the rig­ging wire gave way, I looked out the hatch and the mast it­self was just jel­ly­ing around like a belly dancer.”

Af­ter three-and-a-half years of plan­ning, Blair thought her bid was over.

But af­ter the boat was able to limp back to a South African port, the sailor re­al­ized she could sal­vage the jour­ney.

“It was go­ing to be pos­si­ble to get a new mast in Cape Town and un­dergo re­pairs and it wouldn’t be too late in the sea­son to fin­ish the trip, so once I knew that I was gung-ho and straight back into it.”

Blair’s love for sail­ing, as well as a pas­sion for the en­vi­ron­ment, de­vel­oped while work­ing as a cook and cleaner on a char­ter yacht in the Whit­sun­days in her home state when she was 20.

“I for­mally re­named the boat Cli­mate Ac­tion Now and the whole fo­cus of the cam­paign was to pos­i­tively in­spire peo­ple to take an ac­tion to­ward the en­vi­ron­ment that is for the pos­i­tive.”

Blair in­vited com­mu­nity mem­bers to email mes­sages of cli­mate ac­tion that they’re do­ing in or­der to help the en­vi­ron­ment. The mes­sages were then stuck to the hull.

As for what’s next, Blair said she is just happy to fi­nally be at home with her fam­ily, but will def­i­nitely look to plan more ocean ad­ven­tures soon.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.