HOMEWARD BOUND: Lisa Blair hopes the return trip to Mooloolaba will be a little less eventful.
HOMEWARD BOUND: Lisa Blair hopes the return trip to Mooloolaba will be a little less eventful.

Rough trip to New Zealand was just a warm-up for main event

SHE battled 12m waves in the middle of the Tasman Sea without ever having more than 20 minutes of straight sleep, but Lisa Blair would not change her experience for the world.

The 29-year old from the Sunshine Coast is in New Zealand ahead of the ITL Solo Tasman Yacht Challenge, which begins on Easter Sunday.

The 1380nm journey will begin in New Plymouth and end before a hometown crowd in Mooloolaba.

Ms Blair arrived at Taranaki just before the weekend, bringing an end to an 11-day solo sail from Australia ahead of the return race.

She is rushing repairs to her boat after becoming caught up in a massive storm for three of the 11 days at sea.

"It was certainly concerning, but I've had bigger storms," she said.

"It's a bigger feeling when you're on your own.

"I called (fellow solo yachts man) Bruce Arms and ended up turning the boat around and running with the storm for a day to ride out the swell.

"I was dead tired as well, too nervous about conditions to go to sleep. I was monitoring things as best I could.

"It was a relief making it to New Zealand. I was looking forward to a hot shower and a good night's sleep."

The storm caused damage to electrical gear, the sails and some of the rigging.

Ms Blair ended up copping a few bruises as well.

She said the race back to the Coast could be a warm-up for her upcoming world-record attempt when she sets sail to become the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica solo, non-stop and unassisted.

"It's about making sure I'm capable and strong enough to go on and do Antarctica," she said.

The former Sunshine Coast Grammar School student was an overall race winner of the Clipper 2011-12 Round the World Yacht Race, and has also competed in the Rolex Sydney to Hobart.


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