MISSION COMPLETE: Newcastle’s Dick Lees with yacht Freyja – the last boat to finish this year’s Sydney to Hobart. Picture: Simone De PeakMany were nursing New Year’s Eve hangovers andthe remaining fleet had already celebrated at Sydney to Hobart’s official presentation on Sunday night, but Newcastle’s Dick Lees didn’t seem to mind.
The 72-year-old radiologist from The Hill, owner and skipper of 1945 wooden boat Freyja, sailed quietly into Constitution Dock just after 8amon New Year’s Day to be the last yacht across the finish line in the 2017 blue water classic.
Lees and Freyja’s seven other crew members arrived, much to the delight of Monday morning’s onlookers, after completing the 1170-kilometre journey down ’s east coast in five days, 19 hours, nine minutes and 59 seconds.
“It was on the bucket list and we’ve done it now,” Lees said.
“We’ve achieved it with the second oldest boat and one of the smallest, which makes it quite extraordinary.
“And there were hundreds of people on the wharf clapping and cheering us in. We had a big welcoming party.”
The 11-metre Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club vessel was more than four days behind line-honours winnerComanche, which set a new race record of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds after Wild Oats XI lost a protest for an incident near Sydney Harbour.
Freyja, which placed 96thafter six boats retired, put their 2016 debut failure behind them but were forced into port on Saturday night following a concussion suffered by Ernie Thirkell.
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