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Lisa Blair sets off on NZ solo circumnavigation record setting attempt

by Ella Sagnol/RNZYS Media 6 May 19:40 PDT 7 May 2024
Lisa Blair sets off from North Head, Auckland to commence her solo circumnavigation of New Zealand record attempt - May 7, 2024 © RNZYS Media

Australian record-breaking solo sailor Lisa Blair has embarked on a new World Record sailing attempt. She crossed the start line off Auckland's North Head early Tuesday morning.

Lisa crossed the line aboard her yacht Climate Action Now at 0757 (NZST) Tuesday 7th May to establish an Auckland to Auckland, around New Zealand, sailing record over more than 2,200 nm on a circumnavigation not yet recorded.

Only last month she set a fastest time record for Sydney to Auckland as the first woman and solo monohull record of 8 days, 3hrs and 19 minutes, taking over 4 days off the existing record, to be ratified by World Sailing Speed Record Council (WSSRC).

Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) Race Management volunteers were there to record Lisa's official start time and wish her well as she set a course north out to Great Barrier Island. She has now begun a journey which will see her rounding New Zealand's northernmost point at Cape Reinga where two oceans collide as she crosses from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea. The public can view her live tracker on the website and social posts each day.

The anticipated 18-day voyage will take her down the west coast of New Zealand's North Island heading into a predicted storm force wind system around New Plymouth where the imposing Mount Taranaki impacts the weather system before she crosses Cook Strait and into headwinds all down the West Coast of the South Island.

As she reaches the south Fiordland region, she will have no shelter from the Southern Ocean storms and dangerous swells before pressing south to round Stewart Island and the Southwest Cape where the sea depth dramatically reduces from 5klm to 50 metres on the shelf causing noted rogue waves.

Turning northwards past Dunedin headwinds are again predicted and major commercial fishing grounds with long line nets will provide a hazard before heading into major commercial and recreational boating regions all the way up the coast. This will test her resilience with 20-minute micro sleeps the whole journey home to avoid dangerous traffic and hazards.

The record, to be adjudicated by the RNZYS in collaboration (CYCA) and WSSRC, will require her course to enclose the whole of New Zealand including all rocks and islands lying within 8nm of the mainland - a rhumb line distance of 2,200nm, although her journey will be much longer to sail.

Lisa is an ardent promoter of climate action with her several world record journeys' involving the collection microplastic samples for scientific analysis and her awareness raising of ocean pollution issues as well as advocacy for solutions and change for the health of the ocean.

"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 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.

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 four previous world records and now two new pending Sydney to Auckland records.

Lisa has teamed up with film-makers Nathaniel C. T. Jackson and James Blannin-Ferguson to make a feature-length documentary tracking her ambitious and treacherous solo voyage around Antarctica. Screenings of the world premiere of?Ice Maiden?will be at the Doc Edge Festival which plays in Christchurch (19-30 June), Auckland (3-14 July), Wellington (3-14 July) and then nationwide via the virtual cinema (15-31 July). For more information visit?docedge.nz

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