Solo sailor Lisa Blair breaks Antarctic circumnavigation record

Australian solo sailor Lisa Blair arrived this morning after three months at sea in Albany with a new world record to her name.

Hundreds of well-wishers gathered along Albany’s shoreline and marina, cheering, singing and honking to celebrate the record holder’s arrival.

The Sydney sailor embarked on the voyage from the Western Australian coastal town in February, aiming to break the world record for the fastest unassisted voyage around Antarctica.

View from a cliff overlooking the harbor with sailboats and tugboats in the water and people waving on the hill
Lisa Blair arrived in Albany to cheers from local benefactors.ABC Great Southern: Andrew Collins

The previous record was held by Fedor Konyukhov, who completed the journey in 102 days, 56 minutes and 50 seconds in 2008.

Ms Blair first attempted to break that record in 2017 but was forced to give up her aim when her yacht’s mast broke in rough seas near South Africa.

Blair said it was a tough pill to swallow, but fueled her motivation to try again.

a woman on a boat
Lisa Blair first tried the trip in 2017.Delivered: Lisa Blair

Five years later, Lisa has managed to claim the title, beating the previous record by 10 days and completing the journey in just 92 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes and 20 seconds.

“I did it, and I shaved off the record for ten days!

“This is a pretty big deal for me,” she said.

“I first committed to the goal of trying to set this world record in 2014, so it’s actually been an eight-year journey.”

‘swings as big as a five-storey building’

Mrs. Blair said she had a mixed bag of weather, with a few calm days in between what felt like endless storms.

“This time it was actually more aggressive conditions than I experienced last time.”

“I had many blizzards, blizzards, waves the size of a five-story building.

“The boat was picked up and thrown away several times… I was really not sure if I would sustain significant structural damage to the boat.”

The record attempt was not only an achievement for Lisa, it was also an opportunity to spread awareness about climate change, hoping to inspire individuals to take positive environmental action.

a woman stands in front of a yacht
Lisa Blair’s goal is to inspire individuals to take positive environmental action.ABC Great Southern: Kyle Pauletto

Her ship, called Climate Action Now, is adorned with positive climate action submitted by the community, and during her voyage she has collected samples of microplastics and meteorological data to aid in global weather monitoring.

“When I talk to people about our environment and the crisis we’re in, most people feel it’s such a big deal that their individual efforts won’t make a difference.”

“For me, the power of the campaign is to show people that as individuals we all have the power to make change.

As for Lisa’s future, she said a shower was her top priority before she started planning her next big adventure.

“It’s been two and a half months since I’ve been able to wash my hair… it’s too freezing cold in Antarctica to risk having wet hair and risk getting hypothermia from it.

“It was just an incredible adventure, and I think I want more of it.”

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