On the 20th October, 2018, adventurer and ocean sailor Lisa Blair (Aus) set out on a solo voyage, completely unassisted, around Australia that would cement her place in the record books.
Completing the trip in just 58 days, 2 hours and 25 minutes Lisa knocked 10 days off the previous record to achieve the Guinness World Records title for the fastest circumnavigation of Australia by sail boat (monohull, solo), as well as becoming the first woman in history to do so.
Lisa’s route took her from d'Albora Marinas Rushcutters Bay in Sydney Harbour, anti-clockwise around the entirety of Australia, including the island of Tasmania, before returning to the same place she set off from on the 17th December 2018.
She covered a total of 6,536 nautical miles (12,104 km) at an average speed of 4.69 knots (8.68 km/h; 5.39 mph) in her 100% eco-powered boat.
Over the course of her voyage, Lisa faced extremely challenging conditions with fierce storms and waves of up to five meters, delaying the arrival date she had initially aimed for by two weeks.
Due to the challenging climate and the need to navigate busy shipping routes, Lisa was only able to sleep for 20 minutes at a time over the course of the whole seven weeks.
The circumnavigation of Australia was not the first time Lisa had undertaken a record breaking voyage however- on the 25th July 2017, Lisa officially achieved the first circumnavigation of Antarctica in a sailboat by a woman, again doing so completely unassisted and unsupported.
It was during this journey that Lisa was left fighting for her life after the mast on her boat snapped during a storm, 72 days into her route.
After a four hour struggle, Lisa was fortunately able to motor sail to Cape Town, South Africa, where she stopped for two months to do extensive repairs to the boat.
“It put me into a survival situation where I was no longer thinking about the record- I was thinking about whether I was going to live to see the next sunrise,” Lisa admitted.
After the boat was fixed, Lisa subsequently returned to complete the challenge, returning to the southern oceans during the winter, which she finished in 183 days 7 hours and 21 minutes.
Lisa had initially indented to achieve the record for the fastest circumnavigation of Antarctica in a sailboat as well, however the enforced stop in South Africa on route meant that this was no longer possible.
It was in order to test her skills further that Lisa decided to take on the challenge of circumnavigating Australia, which she describes as more technical due to the challenges of navigating shipping routes, the reefs and the greater risks of running aground or being crashed into.
Lisa discovered the world of sailing in 2005 when she was 22 years old, after securing a job as a cook and cleaner on a yacht in the Whitsundays.
This inspired Lisa to read books about famous sailors such as Kay Cottee, Robin Knox-Johnston and Jessie Martin, and it was then she realised the complexity of the sport. Following this, Lisa began to learn to sail and describes how subsequently, her “whole world opened up”.
Lisa’s fully eco-powered boat, named "Climate Action Now!" shares a name with Lisa’s own project to raise awareness of what individuals can do to avert the climate crisis. Lisa undertakes all her journeys to raise funds and awareness for environmental causes, including her own Climate Action Now! project.
Lisa has vowed to “never stop challenging” herself and has ambitions to attempt a speed sailing record from Sydney to Auckland in the near future, as well as re-attempting to gain the record for the fastest circumnavigation of Antarctica in a sailboat.
Lisa’s latest Guinness World Records title will feature alongside thousands of others in the 2021 edition of the book, available from September onwards.