Lisa Blair: ‘Pedestal grinder system works a treat’

On Monday February 21, Australian sailor Lisa Blair set sail from Albany, WA in a second attempt to sail solo, non-stop, around Antarctica in record time aboard her yacht ‘Climate Action Now’.

In her latest blog post, Blair details how she shook out the mainsail’s reefs using the recently installed pedestal grinder system.

Hi everyone,

Last night was a bit of a bumpy night with steady 25-30 knot winds kicking up a bit of a crossed sea state, so every now and again we would be side swiped by a wave and poor Climate Action Now would be buried under a ton of water.

Despite the conditions I was able to get a pretty good night’s sleep. When I woke it was still grey outside and cold conditions, so I remained in bed until the uncivil hour of 10am local time.

I finally climbed out of my nest in my little pipe cot of a bed when the winds had been steady at 20 knots for more than an hour, so it was time to shake out those reefs. The night before I had needed to put in two reefs. This basically means that I shortened the main sail twice tucking away almost half of the fabric.  Now that the winds are lighter, I was able to put more sail up. I wasn’t looking forward to the grind and I was hoping that it was going to be a simple manoeuvre and for the most part it was.

Last time I circumnavigated Antarctica it use to take me 40 minutes to shake out a single reef. I was using a four speed puntos winch and while it allowed me to get the job done it was slow progress and I needed to maintain that winching motion for the full 40 minutes.

In preparation for lots of reefing and shaking out of the reefs, during the refit, David Lambourne, who is my rigger in Brisbane, kindly offered for me to build a pedestal grinder system using old parts from a scrapped Americas cup racing yacht. When boat 21 and boat 40 were scrapped, David won the bid for the parts and components so he happened to have a shipping container full of grinders and T-boxes and all the bits we would need.

It took some doing but I was able to modify the deck layout of Climate Action Now enough to fit in the grinder. This was quite a major operation, so working with Wright Marine we needed to relocate the traveller back half a meter, reinforce the decking there to support that, build some winch islands and pull it all together.

Lisa Blair selfie - holding frypan with vegan nachos.
Lisa Blair enjoyed gourmet vegan nachos for dinner. Pic – Lisa Blair

So, I was dreading shaking out two reefs at a time. The sails have been over engineered and built with the sturdy Dimension Polyant cloth and with all the reinforcing it makes them weighty. Add to that the four reefing points and all the points of friction in the reefing system well. I was expecting it to take quite a while. 

I crawled on deck and set to work. Within 20 minutes I not only had the whole mainsail up but I also had time to spare and all my lines were packed away.  Also, I wasn’t as tired from the sail change, so I am extremely happy with the modification. It should allow me to change the mainsail more frequently which will allow me to go faster and smash this record. Thank-you David, Shannon and Mark for all your hard work and help.

Aside from the sail change and changing the micro plastic samples over at 12 and 2pm there is not too much to report.  Bob has me sailing down to 50 South over the next few days to pick up a current, so I am expecting it to start to really get colder, but for now it is a light chill on the air. I am very happy with my boat speeds at the moment too with some really high averages, so I just need to be able to keep this up for the trip and we will be golden.

I also spent a lot of today dreaming up meal ideas and there is nothing like distracting yourself with food on a boat, so tonight I managed to get quite creative and make a vegan nachos in a fry pan. I am pleased to report that it was delicious and might become a regular contender on the menu.

Well, that’s all from me but I am getting interviewed tomorrow by the Sports Entertainment Network breakfast show at 8.40am Melbourne time, so I best be off to bed.

Thank you to the following business and individuals who helped me get to the start line and around Antarctica by sponsoring a degree of my record:
Luke Eagle and WageCover
Donna Hipgrave and TravellingDivas

By Lisa Blair

How to follow Lisa Blair’s voyage:

Track Lisa Blair’s position on her website –

To sponsor Lisa Blair, see –

Lisa Blair’s Facebook page –

To purchase Lisa Blair’s book ‘Facing Fear’, see –

Jeanneau JY55
Selden Asymetric Rib Technology
Jeanneau JY55
NAV at Home