Australian single-handed sailor Lisa Blair’s world record attempt to be the first woman to sail single-handed and non-stop around Antarctica is over. A broken mast in savage Antarctic weather in the Southern Ocean’s notorious Roaring Forties has brought the record attempt to a cruel premature end after she had completed three-quarters of the 14,000-mile voyage over 72 days.
Having set out from the southeastern Australian port of Albany on January 22 Blair successfully passed Cape Horn – roughly the halfway mark – after 50 days of sailing. Her boat, Climate Action Now is an Open 50, originally built in the early 2000s for the 5,500-mile Melbourne to Osaka double-handed race.
At the time Blair said: “While I knew I was settling in for the long haul of this trip I have been quite surprised at how quickly the time has passed even though the days feel long,” Blair said after the first 60 days of her voyage. “It will be a few more short weeks and I will be setting foot once again on home soil. A part of me can’t wait to get there, but another part knows that I will end up missing this simple life at sea of eat, sleep, sail when I go back to the bustle of land.”
Although there had been many items that have needed small repairs, at the 65 day mark Blair had managed to avoid any significant damage to her boat, with the exception of damaging the storm jib while lying to a series drogue in a storm just after Cape Horn and a bent pulpit leg.
In the latter case, after being pummelled by a depression with winds of 45 knots that kicked up waves of 6-7 metres, an exploded block for the boom preventer caused the line to rip a leg of the pulpit out of the deck. Blair was able to rig a replacement block and secure the pulpit and tension the lifelines using lashings.
At the time of writing Lisa Blair was motoring to Cape Town to assess the situation and effect repairs.