Sailor home with solo record
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.