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Lisa Blair smashes World Sailing Speed Record by more than 4 days

by Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron 9 Apr 11:04 NZST
Lisa Blair arrives in Auckland from Sydney, after setting new record for crossing 'The Ditch' © Ella Sagnol

The World Sailing Speed Record for a solo voyage from Sydney to Auckland was smashed by acclaimed Australian Solo Sailor Lisa Blair who crossed the finish line between North Head and Rangitoto Island, on late Tuesday afternoon.

She will claim the record for the fastest person and first woman to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted from Sydney, Australia some 1200 nm to Auckland, New Zealand. Her arduous journey across the notorious Tasman Sea (The Ditch) was marked by 30 knot squalls and fluky conditions including frustrating hours of virtual calm, a knock down mid Tasman and lightning storms but with little sleep over the 8-day journey she maintained a leading track over the previous record set in 2020 of 12 days and 14 hrs.

"On this trip the weather and seas threw every element at me and because it was a short window I have hardly slept and really pushed my settings the whole way. The boat has performed superbly but I am pretty exhausted and thrilled to be heading to this early finish and record and showcasing Climate Action now for a healthy ocean," she said from onboard about 40 nm to the finish.

Lisa is sailing to promote Climate Action in her yacht called Climate Action Now adorned with messages from her followers and fans. See her website for details.

The record will be verified by The World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC) and has been adjudicated by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) CEO Justine Kirkjian, in conjunction with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) General Manager Sarah Wiblin.

The original record was set 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, whilst promoting awareness of PTSD.

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 records.

Following this new record, Lisa 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 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 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," said Lisa, who was named 2022 Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

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."

In 2015 Lisa launched her Climate Action Now campaign 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.

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.

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 this year.

The start was crossed at 12noon on April 1, 2024: entrance to Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour). Line drawn between: Light House located on North Head: 33 degrees 49.5' S; 151 degrees 17.9' E and Hornby Light House located on South Head: 33 degrees 50.0' S; 151 degrees 16.8' E

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

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