Newcastle’s oldest Sydney-Hobart entry is only aiming to cross the finish line in 2017, debut navigator Simon Macks reveals

Newcastle’s ‘old lady’ bound for Hobart finish TweetFacebook Newcastle’s old lady – Frejya – sets off for HobartBuilt in San Francisco Bay before making the long journey to Newcastle, Frejya is one of the old mistresses of the Hunter ports.
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She’s been sailing the seas for 72 years, and she will be Simon Macks’ home for his very first entry into the Boxing Day classic.

“I didn’t sail with them last year when they had to pull out of the race, so I’m making my debut for this year,” Macks, who will be navigating the Atkins Ingrid wood vessel, said. “I’m really looking forward to the start of the race on Boxing Day –I know that’s when it’ll all come crashing on to me and I’ll feel the sense of occasion and awe.”

For now, the Hunter entry is still bound for Sydney and is aiming to arrive at the ‘starting line’ just before Christmas.

Alongside Macks, the crew will be helmed by skipper Andrew Miller, as well asFrejya’sowner Dick Lees.

They will be joined by a cohort of crew members, including Paul Flanagan, Oonagh O’Donovan, Louise Costello, Ernie Thirkell and Kyle Hancock.

“Everyone is ready to go further than the 2016 entry,” Macks said. “We know that we’re not going to be challenging for any of the line honours, and that’s definitely not why we’re in the race. We are aiming to finish and that’s what is at the front of all of our minds. We want to avoid the problems of last year and make it the distance.”

Macks also said that it was an honour to be part of the crew of the historic ship leaving the Hunter, but revealed that there’s a few things that he might improve if she wasn’t a “heritage piece”.

Read:Plenty of Hunter faces heading for Hobart

“Sometimes I’m in love with the old timber fittings and brass winches, and it’s so lovely and interesting, but then you realise that new and modern things are put on to boats for a reason, whether it be because it’s more comfortable or more efficient,” Macks laughed. “Then we miss a few things that she doesn’t have.”

Frejya is just one year younger than the Sydney to Hobart Race itself, but finishing should be achievable with the build of the boat, Macks confirmed.

“We’re really confident that she’ll [get to the end], and the model design was made for really heavy seas,” he said. “We just won’t get there very fast.”

That’s not the main plan for Frejya’s crew however, who has their sights set firmly on simply crossing the finish line, whether it’s first or last.

“You’re on the wrong boat if you’re looking for that kind of placing,” Macks said. “We just are focusing on getting over the line. It’s all we’re focusing on.”

“We have some really experienced crew members so if we have any problems there will be repairs and we will be able to sail through the problems now.

“All we’re in it to do is finish and so that’s just what we are looking at as the ‘gold medal finish’ for us.”

The 2017 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race will be aired on Channel Seven, and is set to begin at 1pm on Tuesday, December 26.