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Freya Owner Jim Hancock Asks, “What’s In a Name?”

Jim Hancock, founder of the Bay Area Sailing Science Center, wrote in with some history of the Freya 39 (three-time winner of the Sydney Hobart), how it got its name, and why he named his boat Solstice. The Freyas were built locally by Jim Gannon, first in Sausalito and then in Petaluma.

 
The 23 kt gold lettering of Solstice shines day and night.
The 23 kt gold lettering of Solstice shines day and night.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

“In June 2006, Latitude published a letter I wrote about how I named my boat Solstice for its symbolism as a ‘celestial yin-yang,’ only to learn later that the yin-yang symbol actually originated as a solstice symbol!” Jim wrote.

 
A page from the 1964 Sydney Hobart program.
A page from the 1964 Sydney Hobart program.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

“That worked for me, but it wasn’t my boat’s only celestial connection, or the only interesting naming connection. Solstice is a Freya 39, patterned after a wooden boat named Freya, which remains to this day the only boat to win three consecutive Sydney-Hobarts (1963, 1964, 1965). Freya was designed by Trygve Halvorsen — an Australian of Norwegian descent. Freya came on the heels of Gretel, another boat from the Halvorsen yard, and the first boat to beat America in an America’s Cup race (not the Cup, only a single race).”

 
Constitution docks with Freya winners on bricks.
Freya’s won the race three years in a row.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

“The name Freya was chosen by Trygve’s older brother, Magnus. Freya is the Norse goddess of love, beauty, fertility, war, and death. She is the Norse counterpart to Venus and the goddess for whom the day Friday was named (Freya’s day). It is a fitting name for a boat with such beautiful lines. Other days of the week are similarly named: Monday for the moon; Tuesday is Tyr’s day (the Norse equivalent of Mars); Wednesday is Odin’s day (the Norse equivalent of Zeus); Thursday is Thor’s day (the god of thunder); Saturday is for Saturn; and Sunday, of course, is for the sun.”

 
Freya Finishing 1963 Sydney Hobart
Freya Finishing 1963 Sydney Hobart.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

“As many know, Latitude’s former publisher, Richard Spindler, owned a Freya, Contrary to Ordinary, popularizing the design through his writings and crazy antics with builder Jim Gannon. In June, I will have owned Solstice for 30 years, living aboard for nearly 26 of them. I recently moved ashore to become a dirt dweller, which ironically means that I hope to start sailing Solstice again after many years of her being tied in the slip.”

 
Solstice hauled out and shining.
Solstice still shines after all these years.
© 2024 Jim Hancock

P.S. “Much of the background I learned about Freya came from in-person visits and interviews with Halvorsen, and shipwright Trevor Gowland, when we were anchored in Sydney Harbour in 2005. After [I had] lunch with Halvorsen at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, he handed me a roll of drawings. They were Freya’s original blueprints.”

Speaking of solstice — have you put your June 21-23 solstice weekend sailing plans on the Summer Sailstice map yet

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