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Australian Geographic Society Gala Awards 2022: Adventurer of the Yr, Lisa Blair

By AG Employees

October 28, 2022


In 2022, Sydney-based sailor Lisa Blair claimed the document for the quickest solo and unassisted circumnavigation of Antarctica. Departing from Albany, Western Australia, on 21 February, the continuous voyage took Lisa 92 days, 18 hours and 21 minutes to finish – beating the earlier world document by 10 days.

Lisa found her ardour for crusing in 2005 whereas working as a number and deckhand on a constitution boat within the Whitsundays. She was 25 years previous and in her remaining yr of college, learning to grow to be an artwork instructor with a Bachelor of Visible Arts and a Bachelor of Secondary Faculty Schooling.

Lisa shortly grew to become hooked on crusing. By 2008, she accomplished her first ocean passage, spending three months at sea as a part of a crew delivering a yacht to Hawaii. The next yr, she labored as a number for Paragon Crusing, aiding charters between Maui and Lanai islands in Hawaii. In 2011, she grew to become a crew member within the Clipper Around the World Yacht Race, working as a watch chief, bowman, rigger, and helmsman.

“The race was one of many hardest challenges I would ever achieved,” Lisa says. “It was one thing I by no means thought I used to be able to, till I had achieved it.”

The Clipper Around the World Yacht Race proved to be a formative expertise for Lisa, prompting concepts of different methods to problem herself and take a look at the boundaries of her means.

I could not see a tougher manner of crusing a ship than to sail it solo, as a result of when you’ve gotten crew, you’ve gotten help and folks to depend on,” she says. “I made a decision that solo crusing can be an fascinating problem and a novel manner for me to be taught [by being] self-reliant.”

After years of planning and preparation, Lisa launched into her first main solo voyage in 2017, turning into the primary lady to sail solo round Antarctica. Regardless of her preliminary objective to circumnavigate the continent continuous and unassisted, a dramatic dismasting at sea threatened these plans – and her life.

Lisa was 72 days into the expedition when rigging failure induced her mast to break down throughout a storm. Uncertain whether or not she would survive the evening, Lisa spent 4 hours battling with the boat, desperately struggling to free the rigging whereas blinded by violent winds and stricken by the onset of hypothermia. Her yacht, Local weather Motion Nowwas rocked by waves taller than a two-storey constructing, whose aggressive movement induced the mast to start sawing the boat in half.

That is going to be my new benchmark for what I can obtain in life. I can solely make it better from right here.

Having saved her yacht and self-treated her hypothermia, Lisa diverted north to Cape City below an energetic Pan-Pan misery sign. She was given gas from a container ship, nevertheless the 80,000-tonne vessel collided together with her 11-tonne yacht through the gas switch. Lisa constructed a jury rig and arrived into port at Cape City after 81 days at sea. Local weather Motion Now spent two months on land, present process repairs, earlier than Lisa recommenced her voyage. She accomplished the ultimate leg of her Antarctica circumnavigation and sailed again into WA on 25 July 2017.

Regardless of the traumatic ordeal of the dismasting at sea, the next yr Lisa claimed a brand new world document by turning into the primary lady to sail solo, continuous, and unassisted round Australia. Departing from Sydney on 20 October 2018, the voyage spanned 6500 nautical miles (nm) and took 58 days, 2 hours and 25 minutes to finish.

“Surprisingly sufficient, [Australia] was technically a tougher document than Antarctica,” says Lisa. “There are all kinds of various boats round Australia; there’s industrial transport, small fishing tinnies, kayaks and ocean rowers. As a solo sailor, it is nonetheless my accountability to maintain look out to keep away from hitting any of these boats.”

For your entire period of her voyage – 58 days at sea – Lisa’s sleeping schedule was decreased to 20-minute microsleeps.

“Since you’re so sleep disadvantaged, it may be very easy to make an error,” Lisa explains. “That error might value you the boat, your life, any variety of issues. Whereas Antarctica is open ocean; there’s icebergs and large storms that come by means of, however there’s little or no site visitors and never alot to hit.”

With one other world document below her belt, Lisa was decided to tackle Antarctica as soon as extra and declare the pace document for the quickest, continuous and unassisted circumnavigation of Antarctica. She left Albany on 21 Feburary 2022. By day 28, she took the lead from Fedor Konyukhov’s 2008 document, and maintained in first place for the remainder of the voyage. By the point she returned to Albany on 25 Could, Lisa had shaved a complete of 10 days off Fedor’s document.

“This document is the only biggest factor I’ve achieved to date,” says Lisa. “With that in thoughts, that is going to be my new benchmark for what I can obtain in life. I can solely make it better from right here.”

Up to now, Lisa has sailed greater than 110,000 nautical miles. She has written a guide about her first Antarctica voyage, known as Dealing with Concern. Regardless of the acute sleep deprivation, social isolation and intense stress of life-threatening conditions, journey continues to beckon for Lisa.

“That sense of freedom is a large a part of why I need to do it,” she says. “It is also now grow to be a lot extra concerning the good I can do by means of the platform of ocean crusing. It is the citizen science work, it is the local weather motion marketing campaign, it is the inspiring of the subsequent era of ladies sailors, it is the neighborhood activation that I get by means of my tasks. The extra voice I can generate, the extra good I can do.”

We board her boat, Local weather Motion Now, Lisa collected oceanographic information, meteorological information and microplastic samples for researchers on the Australian Institute of Marine Science. This information is presently being processed by researchers however will grow to be globally obtainable within the coming months.

Associated: Heroes all: Meet the 2022 Australian Geographic Society Gala Award winners

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