UPDATE: Australian sailor Lisa Blair is tonight rigging up an emergency storm sail and will motor towards Cape Town after her yacht’s mast snapped in freezing squalls and high seas. A Hong Kong-registered vessel will help.
Blair has assessed the damage to her yacht Climate Action Now after being dismasted 895 nm south of Cape Town in 40 knot winds and 7 metre swells earlier this morning, according to communications specialist Tracey Whittaker who has spoken to her.
A PAN PAN was called at approximately 0300 (AET) / 1900 (SAST) signalling an urgent threat to her safety and this remains in place, Ms Whittaker said.
The 32-year-old Queenslander was about three quarters into a solo circumnavigation of Antarctica when her boat was dismasted.
“Lisa intends to step the boom and install a jury rig with a small storm sail in place which will assist in her journey to Cape Town under motor,” Ms Whittaker wrote in a media release.
“A Hong Kong registered vessel has been requested to rendezvous with Lisa to provide fuel and other items to assist with repairs if required.”
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The journey to Cape Town will take approximately 10 days at an estimated speed of 4.5 knots. Blair continues to work on her boat in swells of approximately seven metres.
The mast broke when Blair was on her 72nd day at sea attempting to be the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica solo and unassisted. She left from Albany on the West Australian south coast, pledging to raise awareness of climate change during her journey.
In her daily blog, Blair had written of a chronic lack of sleep, going four weeks without washing her hair and a mould outbreak in her bags and lockers.
Yesterday, shortly before she was dismasted, she described waking to find “a complete white out with rain sheeting sideways and the winds howling through the rigging. I started to get my foul weather gear on, by the time I was dressed and on deck the winds were back to 25 knots (from 42 knots).
“Behind me, I could see crystal clear blue skies and in front of me was this frothing boiling mass of angry wind and rain. It is to date, the worst squall I have encountered this trip and hopefully one never to be repeated. I was just thankful that the main sail held up to the onslaught.”
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Source : The Australian