Aussie nears Antarctic sailing record

Katelyn CatanzaritiAAP
Aussie sailor Lisa Blair is two weeks from breaking a world record for circumnavigating Antarctica.
Camera IconAussie sailor Lisa Blair is two weeks from breaking a world record for circumnavigating Antarctica. Credit: AAP

After Aussie solo sailor Lisa Blair dismasted and was left fighting for her boat and her life during a world record attempt to circumnavigate Antarctica in 2017, she'd have been forgiven for sticking to dry land.

But the dramatic and traumatic experience boosted her confidence to make another attempt.

After more than 75 days at sea, Blair is about two weeks off making landfall in Albany, WA - a feat that will shave days off a Russian world record for the same journey.

Not that she's letting herself get too excited yet.

"I don't want to jump the gun," Blair tells AAP from her boat Climate Action Now, somewhere in the swells of the Southern Ocean between South Africa and Australia.

Blair was 72 days into her 2017 journey when she lost her mast in a massive storm, an ordeal that she documented in her book Facing Fear.

"A dismasting is equivalent to hitting an iceberg or losing your rudder - it's one of those worst-case-scenario events.

"For me, my surviving it and managing it in the way I was able to manage it gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to actually be out here in the Southern Ocean.

"Knowing that I have the skill set and knowledge and the mindset and attitude to see through those situations."

After her ordeal, just attempting this record is triumph enough for Blair.

"I was just as proud at the start line as I will be at the finish line," she says.

But this time around - though she's reluctant to tempt fate by saying so - Blair's attempt is looking as though it might come off.

She is leagues ahead of record-holder, Fedor Konyukhov, and if all goes to plan, she should beat him by a few days.

"I haven't let myself think about that too much," she says, though she is desperate for a hot shower.

"But to be successful will be the most remarkable reward."

Blair has a lot time to fill when she's at sea. She has worked her way through many books and has a hard drive full of movies.

But she has also kept busy turning Climate Action Now into a science experiment by collecting data for studies into microplastics and deploying weather drifting buoys for the Bureau of Meteorology to help them improve forecast models and warning systems.

It's not glamorous. Dinner involves adding a cup of boiling water to a variety of freeze-dried meals that she dresses up with different sauces to trick herself into thinking she's eating something new.

Her wet clothes are dried by wearing them as she sleeps as her body is the warmest thing on the boat: "It's a version of torture".

But there is a simplicity to life at sea, she notes.

"I feel just at home on the ocean as I do on land.

"All it is is 'what's the wind doing? Have I eaten? Have I slept?' Eat, sleep, sail ... rinse and repeat."

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails