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Kay Cottee AO

In 1988, Kay Cottee completed the incredible feat of the first solo, non-stop and unassisted voyage around the world by a woman.

Honour Roll

Kay Cottee was born on 25 January 1954, in Sydney. She attended Moorfield Girls' High School and Summerhay's Business College. Brought up in a sea-loving family, Kay was ocean racing at eleven years old.

She founded a boat building and chartering business in order to earn enough money to achieve her dream of sailing around the world. It became reality in 1988 when she became the first woman to travel solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world. It was a 189 day, 23,000 nautical mile voyage in which she set seven world records. It was the longest time spent alone at sea by a woman. She sailed in her twelve metre Cavalier 37 sloop Blackmore's First Lady.

Kay suffered from a hole in the heart since birth which caused her to experience more tiredness than other sailors, but she still managed on only six hours sleep per night during this voyage. She raised $600,000 for the Life Education Centres, a drug education program.

That year, she was named Australian of the Year and was thereafter much in demand as a motivational speaker. She worked for numerous charities, especially Life Education. Kay is also chairperson of the Australian National Maritime Museum Council. After the voyage she found it difficult to be surrounded by people and threw herself into writing her story, First Lady (1988).

She is said to be embarrassed and bewildered by all the awards, given that she simply set out to achieve a personal goal! Kay is an inspiring public speaker and has become an important symbol for women of what they can achieve.