Kay Cottee

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Kay Cottee
Born Kay McLaren [1]
(1954-01-25) 25 January 1954 (age 61)[1]
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Residence Yamba, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality Australian
Citizenship Australian
Occupation yachtswoman, boat-maker, business executive, author, motivational speaker, artist
Spouse(s) Neville Cottee (m. 1972–81)
Peter Sutton[disambiguation needed] (m. 1989)
Children 1

Kay Cottee, AO (born 25 January 1954) was the first female sailor to perform a single-handed, non-stop circumnavigation of the world. She performed this feat in 1988 in her 37 feet (11 m) yacht Blackmores First Lady, taking 189 days.

Personal life[edit]

Born Kay McLaren, the youngest of four daughters, in Sydney on 25 January 1954 Cottee grew up in the southern Sydney suburb of Botany Bayside, near Sans Souci. She was born into a yachting family and was taken sailing for the first time when only a few weeks old. For high-schooling she attended Moorefield Girls High School in Kogarah, New South Wales.

Cottee now lives in Yamba on the far NSW north coast with television producer husband Peter Sutton. She is a skilled boat builder, diver, painter and sculptor.

Solo circumnavigation[edit]

On 5 June 1988 at age 34, Kay Cottee became the first woman to sail round the world alone non-stop when she jumped onto the dock at Sydney Harbour to greet more than 10,000 well-wishers. Cottee had left the harbour 189 days earlier, on 29 November 1987. she cruised into Sydney Harbour to be met by tens of thousands of well wishers.[2]

Her historic voyage on the 37 feet (11 m) yacht Blackmores First Lady[3] was the fastest sailing trip around the world by a woman[2] and the first solo trip to round Cape Horn by an Australian woman.[4]

In the Southern Ocean, Cottee's boat capsized and she was washed overboard.[5][6] When Cottee rounded Cape Horn, the southernmost tip off South America, she celebrated with a lunch of crab, mayonnaise and self baked bread, and a bottle of Grange, a prestigious Australian wine.[6]


Since her round the world trip, Kay Cottee has received numerous accolades.

Other achievements[edit]

Australian National Maritime Museum[edit]

In 1991, Cottee joined the advisory board of the Australian National Maritime Museum.[11] She was chair of the museum from 1995 until 2001.[1][5] In 2000, Blackmores First Lady, was acquired by the museum, and placed on permanent display.[11]


Cottee is the author of two books. Her first book, First Lady, was published by Macmillan in 1989. Her second book, All at Sea on Land, was published by Collins in 1998, about her life in the ten years since the voyage.


  1. ^ a b c "Cottee, Kay AO". World Who's Who, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Australia hails woman-sailor for non-stop, solo world trip". Eugene Register-Guard. 6 June 1987. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Blackmores First Lady" (PDF). Australian National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Kay Cottee". Ovations. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Fearless Femmes" (PDF). btcycle.com. 28 July 2010. p. 71. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c "Sporting Oz Sailing- Kay Cottee". Dinkum Aussies. 1999. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  7. ^ Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5. 
  8. ^ Australian of the Year - 1988
  9. ^ "Australian Honours". Australians celebrating Australians. Australian Government. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  10. ^ "First Lady". ABC Radio National. 14 October 2002. Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Cornford, 5 February 2000. "Cottee sells First Lady to museum". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 15. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Cottee, Kay (1989). First Lady. Pan Macmillan Australia. ISBN 0732900158.