Photography by Lisa Blair Sailing/Corina Ridway
Sailor Lisa Blair became the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica.
32-year old Blair was expected to reach Albany’s Princess Royal Harbour early on Tuesday afternoon, but light winds hampered her arrival, making “late to her own party” as she described it.
Hundreds of people lined vantage points along the coast to cheer her in, however it was dark by the time she docked her yacht just before 8:00pm (WST).
“I was so surprised, given that I was over five hours late and it was so nice to see the amazing support from the Albany community. I was overwhelmed with the welcome. I spent a short bit of time talking to the media who were so patient in waiting for me to get in and then finally, I jumped off my beautiful boat Climate Action Now who had seen me safely through so many storms, and get that hug from my family.”
One of the aims of her venture is to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on the environment with small notes printed across the boat with simple messages on how people can take climate action.
Lisa began her journey on 22 January 2017, and after 72 days of travelling solo and unassisted, her yacht Climate Action Now was dis-masted.
She was rendered fuel from a container ship, built a jury rig and motor sailed herself safely to Cape Town.
After spending two months there, Lisa departed Royal Cape Yacht Club, Cape Town bound for Albany at 1100 (CAT) on Sunday 11 June 2017 (1900 AET).
Lisa sailed back to the position of dismasting and crossed her track she re-sailed that section again unassisted.
On Friday 21 July Lisa crossed her outgoing track at position 45.02 S 118.06 E thereby completing a full circumnavigation below 45 degrees south without assistance and solo.
The final leg of the trip has found Lisa battling seasickness, snowstorms, a severe knockdown and exhaustion.
“I set out on this journey to become the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica raising awareness of the message Climate Action Now,” she said.
“This is a journey that is not mine alone and would not have been possible without the support from my sponsors, volunteers who donated their time and the generosity of those who have contributed to my challenge.”
Once in Albany, she cleared Customs and, chorused by local singing group, The Albany Shanty Men, set off for the local pub for her first meal ashore in many months.
“Every bit of pain, every sail change and all the bitter cold — it was definitely worth it,” she said before reuniting with her family and supporters.
“It was as hard as I imagined and even harder at times but it was one hell of an adventure and that’s what I was out there for.”
“I will always remain the first woman to ever sail around Antarctica solo. For me that’s just an incredible achievement.”
ORIGINAL RECORD ATTEMPT
Lisa aimed to become the first women to:
* Circumnavigate Antarctica: solo, non-stop and unassisted
* Circumnavigate below 45 degrees South
* Compete in the Antarctica Cup Ocean Yacht Race
* And, break the current record set by Fedor Konyukhov
Lisa will be competing in the Antarctica Cup Race Track and will be the only competitor, racing the clock. When successful, Lisa will be the third person in history to achieve such a challenge.
Lisa Blair began sailing professionally in 2006 after completing a Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Visual Arts at university and has since clocked up more than 50 000 nautical miles of ocean sailing. Lisa is always challenging herself and expanding on her sailing and maritime knowledge to ensure she is prepared for any and all scenarios that she may encounter at sea.
Originally based on the Open 50 racing design Climate Action Now (ex-Funnel-Web) was purpose built to race in the Double Handed Melbourne to Osaka Yacht Race.
“Choosing the right boat for a challenge like mine is so important. The first time I laid eyes on Climate Action Now (then known as Funnel-Web) I was in love. She is a safe, strong and seaworthy vessel that can really go anywhere and do anything.”