Even after 17 Sydney to Hobart Yacht races, Ragamuffin crewmember Vanessa Dudley, 55, still gets nervous on Christmas Day and has to watch what she eats to avoid seasickness.
Ms Dudley will be sailing alongside 86-year-old skipper, Syd Fischer, and over 20 other crewmembers in the annual Boxing Day race.
“[There's] only one woman though, so this is lady luck for the Ragamuffin,” said NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads Ray Williams, pointing to world sailing champion Ms Dudley.
Having started sailing when she was nine years old at Manly Yacht Club, Ms Dudley has gone on to win the Laser Grand Masters world championship in Oman earlier this year.
“Sometimes you wonder why you put yourself in ... not harms way but … I'm a bit of a chicken in real life. It's a really cliché but you feel the fear and do it anyway.”
Ms Dudley is optimistic that the 100 foot Ragamuffin will complete the 628 nautical mile race quickly.
“They're getting shorter because the boats are getting faster as years go by. I've done a Hobart race that's taken six days and this one will take a couple of days,” said Ms Dudley.
Ragamuffin will be one of 94 yachts which will race out of Sydney's heads after the starter's cannon at 1pm on Thursday.
“We think we've probably been the underdogs a little bit because Wild Oats hass obviously got a fantastic record and there's a big boat - ex-speed boat, now Loyal - which has had a lot of media coverage, so we're really looking forward to getting in and mixing with them.”
There is a record number of international competitors this year with 22 overseas entries.
It's expected the race will begin against a backdrop of cloud and possibly even rain, that could allow a speedy exit through the heads for the boats but a choppy day for spectators on the water, Ms Dudley said.
“The smaller spectator boats can get thrown around like crazy so it's better for everyone if they take it easy,” she said.
The NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads Ray Williams warned racegoers on the water to respect exclusion zones, wear life jackets and drink responsibly this Boxing Day.
“When you've got a lot of smaller vessels, as we normally do see, we're expecting some choppy conditions, especially in the harbour when we've got so many vessels that are out there - it makes the conditions just a little bit more awkward.”