Antartica: Australian woman in world record bid

Sydney, Jan 23 (IANS) Sailor Lisa Blair set off from the Australian town of Albany on Monday in a bid to be the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica solo, non-stop and unassisted in less than 100 days.

The 32-year-old from Queensland will have to navigate through the Southern Ocean’s Cape Leeuwin, Cape Horn and Cape Agulhas, which are regarded as some of the world’s most dangerous stretches of water, Xinhua news agency reported.

The risk of huge seas, strong winds and icebergs are only some of the challenges Blair will have to contend with.

“I’ve been out doing sea trials, we’ve done four or five hour sails every afternoon just testing all the equipment and going through the paces and making sure the electronics are working correctly and I’m pleased to say it’s all good,” Blair told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Blair’s 1,600 nautical mile voyage will be an undertaken in a fiberglass boat, raising some safety concerns.

“Blair has worked for me on a couple of occasions as a skipper, and would have prepared very well,” Sydney’s Liquid Edge sailing instructor, Ron Lilburne, told Xinhua.

“She’s a great sailor with a lot of offshore racing experience, I would certainly be worried about the wind though!” Lilburne said.

The Australian adventurer remains unconcerned about the risks involved in the voyage.

She told the media: “Once I clear 45 degrees south, there’s my first storm rolling through, I just can’t wait to get in it and test the boat and see how she handles, put her through her paces.”

The designer of the boat, Robert Hick, named the vessel Climate Change Now in order to highlight environmental issues and raise money for climate action.

If Blair beats the previous 102-day record, she’s expected to arrive back in Albany at the end of April.

–IANS

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