Aussie eyes Antarctic solo sailing record
The last time Australian yachtswoman Lisa Blair sailed solo around Antarctica, she faced one of the worst-case scenarios on a boat in the frigid Southern Ocean.
It was night time in 2017 and she was three-quarters of the way around the icy continent when she suffered a dramatic dismasting after a wire gave way.
"You end up with a 22-metre long spear, tangled up and attached to your boat in rough conditions ... it's a very dangerous and risky scenario," the 36-year-old says.
"It was something I was very fortunate to be able to survive."
After securing fuel from a passing container ship and motor sailing to Cape Town, Blair restarted the voyage and made history by becoming the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica with one stop.
Now she is preparing to face the waters again when she sets sail from Albany in southern Western Australia aboard her 15-metre yacht Climate Action Now.
Her 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.
While traumatic, the 2017 voyage gave Blair confidence that she has what it takes to handle whatever the next three months entails.
"I planned for dismastings, just as I planned for collisions and mass flooding events and every possible conceivable scenario," she said.
"In theory I should be able to succeed and overcome every challenge I face out there."
Isolated on a boat in the middle of the ocean, Blair said her world will shrink down to "eat, sleep, sail and what's the weather doing".
"There's real simplicity to the lifestyle out there ... that part of the journey is always very enjoyable."
This time it will be a little more complicated as she has partnered with a number of scientific organisations keen to understand more about the remote part of the world.
"There's not a lot of data in microplastics sampling in the Southern Ocean at all, let alone a complete circumnavigation," she said, listing off a number of planned experiments.
"For me to be able to deliver that as an additional benefit of my campaign to our scientific community is one of the big driving factors."
The hull of Climate Action Now is decorated with multicoloured digital post-it notes bearing messages about environmental actions taken by people Blair has met.
"We all have that power to create change, it just starts with one small step," she says.
Blair had planned to leave on Sunday, but has pushed back her departure to Monday morning.
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