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Kay Cottee, AO

Adventure - After Dinner - Challenge - Change Management - Environment - Goal Setting - Inspiration - Inspirational - Keynote Speakers - Motivation - Overcoming Adversity - Personal Development - Risk Taking - Stress Management - Travel and Tourism

First Female Solo Voyage

In just 189 days Kay Cottee sailed home to victory after circumnavigating the globe on a solo voyage that earned her the honour of being the first woman to do so. Kay overcame challenges and formidable odds on the 22,000 nautical mile journey, including whales, icebergs and breaking seas. Kay’s determination, motivation and skill ensured her survival and these qualities form the backbone of her inspirational presentation.

On June 5th 1988 Kay Cottee fulfilled her childhood dream – to become the first woman in history to complete a solo, non-stop and unassisted sailing voyage around the world aboard her yacht ‘Blackmores First Lady’.  It was a journey which would change her life in more ways than she could ever imagine.

Since returning from her trip she has travelled Australia and the world motivating tens of thousands.  Within two years after stepping ashore, still sponsored by Blackmores, she raised more than $1 million for the Life Education Charity.

At the end of the voyage the accolades began.  Kay was named the 1988 Bi-Centennial Australian of the Year.  That same year she became an Officer of the Order of Australia and is the first Australian and second-only recipient of the Cutty Sark Medal, presented by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Rotary International gave Kay its highest honor by making her a Paul Harris Fellow; she also became an Honorary International Zontian.

In 1989 she wrote her first book ‘First Lady’ which took readers across the waters on her remarkable trip and became the highest selling hardback non fiction to date.  Ten years later she wrote a second book, ‘All at Sea on Land’ recounting the funny, exciting and sad stories that come with life in the public eye.

In 1990 Kay joined the board of Australia’s National Maritime Museum, becoming chairman after five years, a position she held for six years.  Fifteen years ago she took on the even more challenging role of mother to a very active youngster, Lee.

In 1996 Kay became national patron to Sailability Australia – an organisation aimed at creating an environment in which disabled people can enjoy our beautiful waterways.  Sailability is successfully creating a small fleet of access sailing dinghies in each regional area of Australia.  These specially designed dinghies are unique in that they allow even the most severely disabled quadriplegic the freedom and joy of sailing single-handed or with others.

Currently Kay lives on the far north coast of New South Wales and as well as being a sought after motivational speaker is an active partner in Yamba Marina with her husband Peter Sutton.   Kay also sits on the NSW State Government Maritime Ministerial Advisory Committee.

Away from the water one of Kay’s other passions is art.  She has been painting and sculpting for over 20 years and has an art gallery at Yamba Marina.  This year, as a mature age student, Kay began studying visual arts at Southern Cross University. All pretty remarkable for someone who dropped out of school at age 15!

Presentation Topics

•    Environmental change Speaker
•    Motivational & Inspirational Speaker


“Your story was a true inspiration and our delegates found it to be both stimulating and motivating”.
Australian Society of CPAs, Perth

“Kay's presentation was very moving. She presents in a very relaxed understated manner - she was great”.

“Kay spoke from the heart and delivered a moving and fine address”.
Combined Rural Traders Ltd

“Our highest achievers were inspired and moved. Boy, what a way to get them fired up for the challenges we face!”
Compaq Computers – Sydney 2000

Our team thoroughly enjoyed Kay Cottee's presentation and we've had loads of very positive feedback on her talk. She was an interesting and inspiring speaker. I would have cut the video and slides out and had her speak for longer!

“Kay’s session held all delegates spellbound. Those who didn’t really know what Kay could offer, I believe, came away with a greater appreciation of her achievements. The inspiration she gave us all was beyond comprehension. A session I personally could see over again”.
Swimming Pool & Spa Association of Australia

  • Kay Cottee, AO


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