Eight days ago, Wenee had never sailed on the ocean. On Boxing Day, she’s doing the Sydney to Hobart

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When Wenee Yap told her mother-in-law she would be racing in this year’s Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race she had one piece of advice: “don’t die”.

A Malaysian-born self-confessed nerd who grew up in “the sticks” of Western Sydney, Yap’s family didn’t even spend summers at the beach, let alone near a boat.

Wenee Yap is part of the LawConnect crew for this year’s Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.Credit: James Brickwood

But when the opportunity came up at work to go in the draw to be part of the crew for LawConnect – the super maxi owned by Christian Beck, the founder of legal software firm LEAP – Yap threw her hat into the ring.

Ten months later, she’s one of four LEAP employees randomly selected as part of the 21-person crew bound for Hobart on Boxing Day.

“We [family] never came to the beach, let alone boats. I think the closest I ever came was I got into North Sydney Girls [High School], and one of my peers was a sailing champion,” Yap said.

When the idea of the race was first suggested to Yap her initial thought was not to do it.

A team meeting onboard LawConnect on Sydney Harbour on Tuesday. Credit: James Brickwood

“That sounds terrifying. There’s only one toilet and 20 male sailors who just pee off the edge, that sounds awful. There are no showers – I’m a very civilised person, I don’t even like camping,” laughed Yap. “But yeah, it’s an adventure, and that’s basically why I signed up.”

Yap took up twilight sailing as part of a work initiative in October last year, but had never ventured outside Sydney Heads into the open sea. However, for the past eight days she’s been in boot camp, learning what it takes to be an ocean sailor, including survival training in case something goes wrong.

“I discovered that I’m only mildly seasick, which is really helpful … On our second day we hit really, really high winds, and we went up the coast to Terrigal, and it’s like being on a rollercoaster for two hours,” she said.

For the most part, Yap will be part of the team helping make life easier on board, which can be as simple as making food and coffee. But she’s also helping with media as LawConnect is set to livestream the race from start to finish via four GoPro cameras.

As the “designated outgoing person of the crew”, Yap will be interviewing crew members, helping with the livestream and adding commentary during the race. The past few days have been a whirlwind, and until the actual race, the hardest part is done. The boat will only be on the water rarely during the next three weeks in an effort to avoid any damage.

Yap knows the risk that comes with the race, and she acknowledged how dangerous it can be, but after the COVID pandemic, she didn’t want anything holding her back.

“During COVID we spent two years stuck indoors, very aware of the life you weren’t living,” she said. “And so, you kind of go, just do it. If you don’t seize adventure when it’s in front of you, what else are you going to do with your life?”

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