Team Vodafone Sailing are hoping to mark the 30th anniversary of the Coastal Classic by setting a race record.
The crew on board the big red trimaran are aiming for an ambitious time of six hours and 22 minutes, which they have calculated as the theoretical best time they could complete the 119-nautical-mile journey under the predicted weather conditions.
That would eclipse the race record of six hours, 43 minutes and 32 seconds set by Alfa Romeo in 2009.
But the first challenge for Team Vodafone has been making it to the startline. Following repair work the boat was still devoid of its rig late on Wednesday, with the weather not allowing them to step the mast before yesterday.
But even though they probably won't get to hoist sails until just before race start, skipper Simon Hull is confident they will be ready for the gun off Devonport Wharf at 10am today.
PredictWind's forecast for the race start is for between 15 and 18 knots of breeze from the southwest. The big fear for Team Vodafone is that the wind will lighten as they move north.
After setting a blistering pace through the early stages of last year's race, Team Vodafone's bid for the record came unstuck when they spent an hour waiting for wind at Cape Brett, and a frustrating afternoon sailing in patchy breezes the last 20 miles to Russell.
"We don't want to see that happen this year, but anything goes in yacht racing," said regatta spokesman Jon Vincent.
A wildcard line honours contender is Titi Nui, one of the early carbon fibre Orma 60s, and at one stage holderof a Transatlantic record. The boatis now owned by Joy Sutton, who refitted it for cruising and has sailedit around the world.
Times for the keelers, such as the TP52 V5, now owned by David Nathan, lie several hours outside the time set by Alfa Romeo in 2009, but some of the smaller boats are still in with a good chance of setting size-based records.
Entrants will race in eight divisions.
The yachts set off from Devonport Wharf in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour at 10am today with the first of the fleet expected to arrive at Russell Wharf in the Bay of Islands as early 4.30pm.
Devonport Wharf, Auckland - Russell Wharf, Bay of Islands
Start 10am today.