The last time Daryl Wislang won the Volvo Ocean Race, he finished the year by taking out line honours in the famed Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.
That will be his ambition again when he jumps on board Comanche for the dash from Sydney to Hobart via the Bass Strait starting today, the same boat he won the 2015 Sydney Hobart on just months after winning the Volvo Ocean Race with Dongfeng Race Team.
Comanche took line honours again in last year's race, albeit after rivals Wild Oats XI were handed a one-hour penalty for a port-starboard incident with Comanche early in the race, and the pair will duel it out again when the race starts.
A fleet of 91 will tackle the 628 nautical mile race, including 13 international boats from China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Poland, Russia, the UK and the United States. There will be five super maxis, with Black Jack, Scallywag and InfoTrack joining Comanche and Wild Oats XI.
"The No 1 goal is to be the first boat to Hobart," Wislang said. "We are not really vying for handicap honours because the boat doesn't really lend itself to handicap racing. We just want to be the first boat there.
"The owner, Jim Cooney, has put a lot of time and effort into getting this boat up to speed and improving its performance in light airs. That's what we have been working hard on since July since the team first got together for the first training session."
The team has some well-known individuals, even though they lost Jimmy Spithill to injury, with the likes of Brad Jackson, Tony Rae, Kyle Langford and Louis Sinclair also on board.
This will be Wislang's fourth Sydney Hobart Yacht Race but, interestingly, he had already done two Volvo Ocean Races before he competed in the Australian event. The Volvo Ocean Race is never far from his thoughts and he's trying to put together a team for the next edition of the race in 2021.
"Whether or not that happens is still a long way off," he said. "It gives you a little bit of time to try to line all the dots up.
"It's pretty hard finding funding out there. You almost have to sell your soul to where the money is going to come from. At heart, it would be perfect to have a New Zealand team but I think we still have a little way to go to get a fully-funded team out of New Zealand."
- Michael Brown is Yachting New Zealand's communications manager.