Adventurers join the Sydney International Boat Show to thrill and inspire

Inspiring, stimulating and motivating individuals call the Sydney International Boat Show home this year, as solo ocean rower Michelle Lee, Antarctic circumnavigator Lisa Blair and World Water Speed Record holder Ken Warby join the show at the International Convention Centre Sydney 2 - 6 August 2018.

While most of us enjoy a sedate day out on the water, others take hold of the opportunity with both hands and give it a darn good shake.

Michelle Lee’s challenge is to become the first Australian woman to row 5000 kilometres solo across the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an inspiring goal, and one which is taking as much resilience to get to the starting line as it will be for Michelle to finish. Each week, Michelle takes her nearly 8 metre boat, ‘Australian Maid’ onto the water and spends two days training, while also ‘living’ on the boat overnight as she will on the ocean. “The boat being carbon fibre is light but sturdy for ocean racing,” she said. “But when fully laden with gear and provisions, I’ll be rowing a vessel close to 1 tonne in

Michelle’s goal is to compete in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge 2018 - one of the world’s toughest nautical events, an ultimate test in mental and physical strength and endurance. It is a 2900 nautical mile (5371km) ocean row that starts from La Gomera, off the coast of north Africa amongst the Canary Islands, in December. It finishes between 60 to 90 days later in Antigua.

Conditions can present waves as high as 40 feet, winds reaching up to 45 knots, not to mention the risk of capsizing, sharks, equipment failure, salt sores and both physical and mental exhaustion.
Participants can enter as a solo, pair or four. Michelle will be on her own.

On July 25th 2017, Lisa Blair made history becoming the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica. Lisa departed Albany in Western Australia on January 22nd, 2017 with the intention of becoming the first woman to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around Antarctica.

Lisa faced many challenges on her journey battling waves the size of houses, freezing conditions, snow and hail storms, extreme isolation and fatigue, but the greatest challenge occurred on April 4th. She had been at sea for seventy-two days and had yet to see another boat or human being when in the night during storm conditions her mast came crashing down due to rigging failure. Lisa's thoughts quickly changed from thoughts of home to “will I survive the night?” and after a four-hour battle in freezing conditions she was able to save her yacht 'Climate Action Now' and her life.

Lisa’s boat underwent repairs and after a further 2 months on land was able to re-commence her voyage south again. Lisa crossed her position of demasting and sailed the last leg of the journey home during the Southern Ocean winter, safely arriving home to a hero’s welcome.

Her greatest challenge is yet to come. In a few short months Lisa will be heading off to set a new record, this time being the first woman to sail a non-stop, solo, unassisted circumnavigation of Australia in October this year. Lisa will need to navigate around reefs, islands and shipping traffic, and will only be able to take 20 minute naps throughout the circumnavigation, making this journey more challenging than the wide open space of the Southern Ocean.

This year the Sydney International Boat Show welcomes the on-water speed world record holding Ken Warby to the show. Attempting to break his father’s record, David Warby and the Spirit of Australia II will be on display, which Ken has designed to be almost 50% more powerful than his original 1978 world record breaker.

Ken set the current World Water Speed Record of 511km/h in 1978, and despite two unsuccessful official challenges, along with many challengers claiming they will build a boat to beat his record, to date, no one has.

Now 40 years later Ken again challenges the Outright Unlimited World Water Speed Record, with his son David in the pilot’s seat. Ken Warby is the only man in history to design, build and drive a boat to an Outright Unlimited World Water Speed Record.

Visitors to the show will be able to meet Ken and David and take a close look at the Spirit of Australia II, which is powered by a massive Rolls Royce Orpheus 803 ex-Italian Air Force jet engine, previously used to give flight to a Fiat Gina G-91 jet fighter. The vessel is as much a rocket as it is a boat.

For the record attempt, the Spirit of Australia II must undertake 2 runs travelling at an average speed greater than 511km/h. Ken’s son David Warby is looking forward to talking with visitors about the boat and the test runs they’ve taken so far.

Safe boating is good boating and the Show’s organisers have once again teamed-up with Transport for NSW as the Show’s Partner in Safety. At the show you will find a whole lot of support information to help make your time on the water better and safer. Visit the Show’s Boating Safety Zone to learn more.

The Sydney International Boat Show is open from 10am until 7pm, 2 - 6 August 2018 at the International Convention Centre Sydney and Cockle Bay Darling Harbour. Adult tickets are $22. For up to date information visit

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