Jimmy Spithill is set to be a surprise starter in this month's Coastal Classic.

The two-time America's Cup winning skipper will be on board the Orma 60 trimaran, Frank Racing - formerly known as Team Vodafone - for the annual yacht race from Auckland to Russell.

The boat holds the race record for the 119 nautical mile race, completing the 2014 edition in five hours and 13 minutes.

Frank Racing owner and skipper Simon Hull told Fairfax Media Spithill would likely be a tactician on the boat, "but it would be silly not to use his driving skills".

Advertisement

"It will be great to have Jimmy and the sailing intensity that he will inevitably bring. Both personally and to focusing the crew," Hull said.

Spithill, who is no stranger to off-shore racing, said this will be the first time he has competed in the iconic Labour Weekend race.

"It looks like a great race and should be a heap of fun," he told Fairfax.

"I've flown helicopters along that coast but always wanted to see it all from a boat. Hopefully we get good breeze."

Spithill has strong pedigree in trimarans.

He holds the unusual record of being the only sailor to skipper a trimaran in the America's Cup, after steering Oracle Team USA to glory in a 2010 Deed of Gift match against Alinghi.

The 90-foot trimaran, nicknamed "DOG-zilla" obliterated the Swiss team, led by Brad Butterworth.

This year's Coastal Classic, which sets off from Auckland's Devonport Wharf and finishes off Russell in the Bay of Islands, is expected to attract a fleet of up to 150 across a range of classes.