First woman to circumnavigate Antarctica, Lisa Blair, to talk in Port Stephens

Lisa Blair, the first woman to sail solo and unassisted around Antarctica with one stop, will aim to inspire when she stops in Port Stephens this month to talk about her feat.

Blair sailed through snow storms, massive seas, cyclonic winds and survived a dismasting (where the mast comes down) more than 1000 nautical miles from land to become the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica this year.

The sailor, currently on a tour of the East Coast, will deliver an hour-long talk at Port Stephens Yacht Club on Thursday, September 28.

“It’s not just for the sailing crowd,” Blair told the Examiner.

“If you don’t know anything about sailing, you’ll still get a lot of out.

“I have quite a unique sailing story. I only started sailing 10 years ago and then I went and did something most mature men wouldn’t dream about.

“From a journey perspective, the talk is about my journey but I hope to inspire others and motive them into following their dreams.”

While completing her Bachelor of Education and a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Southern Cross University in 2005, Blair secured a job as a hostess on a sailing boat in the Whitsundays.

Once discovering sailing Blair wanted to learn more and was inspired from books about solo sailors like Kay Cottee, Robin Knox-Johnston and Jessie Martin.

She decided to change her course in life and gather the skills to become a solo sailor herself, and clocked up more than 50 000 nautical miles of ocean sailing before embarking on her record-making voyage.

After circumnavigating the world in the Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race, Blair went on to work for Alex Thomson Racing on their 60 foot racing yacht sponsored by Hugo Boss.

She then acquired a RYA/MCA Yacht Master Offshore, a Master Class 5 (Australian skipper ticket) and MED 3 (marine engineering).

In 2014 Blair sailed across the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand twice, clocking up almost 3000nm of solo sailing experience in preparation for her Antarctica record.

Lisa Blair sitting on the bow of her yacht at Portland. Picture: Dean Coopman

Lisa Blair sitting on the bow of her yacht at Portland. Picture: Dean Coopman

Blair acquired a yacht in November 2015 and skippered it in the 2015 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

After 3.5 years of planning and gathering funds Blair set off on January 22, 2017 from Western Australia with the goal of becoming the first woman to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica.

Her secondary goal was to break the current record to circumnavigate Antartica of 102 days held by Russia.

Seventy-two days into her solo voyage and three quarters the way around Antarctica Blair suffered a dramatic and life threatening dismasting in storm conditions more than 1000nm from land.

Blair battled into the night to save herself and her yacht before finally being able to cut away the mast.

She was rendered fuel from a passing container ship, built a jury rig and motor and sailed into Cape Town, South Africa.

Two months later Blair re-started her voyage, crossed her track at the position of dismasting and continued back to Australia.

On July 25, 2017 Blair made history and became the first woman to sail solo and unassisted around Antarctica with one stop.

The cost to attend Blair’s talk at Port Stephens Yacht Club, located at Soldiers Point Marina, is $20, payable at the door on the night.

The September 28 talk will begin at 6.30pm.

More information can be found on Blair’s Facebook page: Lisa Blair Sails the World.