Albany trio gearing up to tackle Sydney to Hobart

Daryna ZadvirnaAlbany Advertiser
Albany sailor Mark McRae will navigate Spirit of Freya in this years' Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
Camera IconAlbany sailor Mark McRae will navigate Spirit of Freya in this years' Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

A trio of Albany sailors are about to compete in one of the world’s great ocean races.

Southern Ocean Sailing owner Mark McRae will lead a team of seven aboard 11m vessel Spirit of Freya in the 75th Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race starting on Boxing Day.

“I’ve been sailing since I’ve been walking,” Mr McRae said.

“I’ve navigated through the ice of Antarctica, Cape Horn and every other ocean on the planet.”

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Mr McRae first registered for the race 10 years go, skippering a Russian 27m maxi, but keel problems in Auckland prevented him from contesting the event.

Last year he was set to skipper a Polish-owned maxi but it suffered significant damage on the voyage from the UK to Albany and had to retreat to Cape Town.

This year, the 63-year old skipper will be joined by two other Albany sailors — a doctor, Steve Lee, and marine science student Corrina Ridgway.

“Without question it will be tough going, however we are very confident of putting on a serious challenge in our class,” Mr McRae said.

Despite earlier concerns from Sydney to Hobart officials that the race could be postponed because of smoke from the New South Wales bushfires, Mr McRae said he was confident it would not be a problem.

“I was there last week and the smoke was terrible when I was flying out — you couldn’t see from one side of the airport to the other,” he said.

“But I was just talking to the guys in Sydney this morning and it’s all dissipating now.

“Some of the weather forecasts look like it’s going to be seriously rough, other forecasts look like it’s going to be really nice.

“But as I say to my crew, we’ll manage with whatever we get.”

According to Mr McRae, the race is “just another job”, and he is quietly confident his team will perform well.

The race is expected to finish on New Year’s Eve.

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