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Lisa Blair sets sail on world record attempt

Published Thu 04 Apr 2024

Acclaimed Australian Solo Sailor Lisa Blair has departed from Sydney on Monday 1st April to attempt the World Sailing Speed Record as the fastest person and first woman to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted from Sydney to Auckland.

Lisa will sail over 1200nm across the notorious Tasman Sea and anticipates the voyage will take 8 -10 days to complete.

Lisa is the current world-record holder for sailing solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica in 2022, breaking the record by 10 days to add to her 4 other world record voyages.

“This project is very different from my circumnavigation of Antarctica, with the shorter distance it means that I need to be on 100% of the time and work 24/7 to be able to maximise the performance of the boat while also keeping myself safe at sea," she said.

“I will be sleeping in 20-minute intervals for the whole project to keep a safe lookout of other vessels while pushing my boat hard.”

The original record was established on the 22nd of January 2020, by retired Australian Veteran James Prascevic when he set the solo, monohull record with a time of 12d 14h 41m 15s. He was sailing to raise awareness of PTSD.

Following Lisa’s new record attempt, she will embark on another world-first sailing record, Auckland to Auckland around NZ, to become the first person to complete the trip, solo, non-stop and unassisted, a voyage she anticipates will take 15 to 18 days to complete.

Lisa sets sail from Sydney. Photo credit: Andrea Francolini/Lisa Blair.

Lisa Blair is a driving force for change and uses her world records to create positive education and participation around the Climate Action Now message.

On the Antarctic voyage Lisa worked in partnership with the Australian Institute of Marine Science to complete the largest microplastic survey of regions ocean. The sad news was that every sample had plastic and 64.8% of the microplastics found on her voyage were classed as microfibre, generated from the textile industry. Her new world record trips enable her to share an amplify the key findings.

Key voyage findings:

  • The highest concentration of microplastics sampled was found in the waters below Australia and is equivalent to 357,500 particles of plastic in an Olympic size swimming pool
  • An average of 58,000 particles of Microplastics in an Olympic size swimming pool volume of water was sampled around Antarctica
  • Fibres were more abundant than fragments, comprising 64.8% of all microplastics found
  • Lisa sampled a micro-bead from the middle of the Southern Ocean. Commonly found in skin care products
  • Supplied seafloor depth data to the Seabed 2030 Program

“I simply couldn’t sit by with the data from Antarctica and not take action so for me this project is all about inspiring change and sharing the shocking results of the Microplastic samples from Antarctica," said Lisa, who was named 2022 Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

“I want to see a happy and healthy planet and people won’t protect what they can’t understand so I try to share my love of the ocean and this planet with my records. I think adventurers have a responsibility to become story tellers and communicators."

Lisa’s sustainability journey first started in 2012 while sailing around the world in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

“We were more than 20 days from land sailing across the Southern Ocean from South Africa to New Zealand. I was at the helm looking out when we crested a wave and there, off our bow was a Styrofoam box floating past. We were thousands of miles from land in the most remote regions of the planet and I was seeing plastic. I couldn’t believe it.”

Lisa has departed from Sydney to attempt the World Sailing Speed Record as the fastest person and first woman to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted from Sydney to Auckland. Photo credit: Andrea Francolini/Lisa Blair.

Alarmed at the sight of human impact so far from land Lisa felt overwhelmed and lost as to how to change things.

“I used to bury my head in the sand and soothe myself with the idea that it was okay to do nothing because my little bit wouldn’t matter. It wasn’t until this mindset changed that I started to understand the power of individual action.”

In 2015 Lisa launched her Climate Action Now message and began collecting post it note messages from people in the public. Lisa’s yacht ‘Climate Action Now’ is adorned with thousands of messages of environmental actions from members of the community.

“If a million people think like I did ‘that their bit didn’t matter’ then that was going to be a million more negative impacts but if we could shift this thinking and empower a million people to realise that their micro-actions matter then we would be creating a large impact.”

"I am living proof that just one person can make a difference and there are many things that people can start doing today to make a difference. We all have the power to create change, it just starts with one action.”

Lisa’s top tips:

  • Install a filter on your washing machine
  • Buy natural material clothing
  • Be mindful of plastic pollution in the streets and waterways
  • Dispose of your bottles correctly
  • Drive less – to reduce CO2 and also minimise microplastics from the tyre erosion
  • Invest in quality products
  • Repair over replace
  • Spend wisely – you are voting with your dollar

Lisa currently holds 5 world records in sailing and following the NZ projects, Lisa also has plans for an Arctic world record. The feature film about her Antarctic voyage, Ice Maiden, will have it’s world premiere at the Dock Edge Film Festival in NZ in June.

“Sailing has become a fantastic avenue for me to create change, the more projects I complete the more impact I can create.”

The record will be adjudicated by the World Sailing Speed Record Council with the official start and finish lines below:

Start: Entrance to Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). Line drawn between:
Light House located on North Head:  33° 49.5' S; 151° 17.9' E and Hornby Light House located on South Head: 33° 50.0' S; 151° 16.8' E

Finish: Auckland finishing line is between:
The southern edge of North Head (36° 49.8’ S, 174° 48.7’ E) and the front light beacon of the Rangitoto Channel leading lights (Fl(2) 4s 10m 14M (approximate position 36° 49.45’S, 174° 50.5’ E).