New Zealand’s Oyster Bay wine producer Jim Delegat took just one hour to decide on placing $1million on winning this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - and the form guide leading into the race shows he has made a shrewd investment.
Delegat spent the money on the winner of the last Volvo Ocean Race, the Volvo 70 Groupama 4, renamed it Giacomo after his wine pioneer grandfather and installed the might of New Zealand on the deck.
The crew includes second in command Rodney Keenan, Steve Cotton, Chris Dickson and a top navigator in Juan Vila from the successful Alinghi crew in the 2007 America’s Cup.
Dickson, known as the U Boat commander, a tenacious match racing champion with several America’s Cup campaigns behind him, won line honours in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 1998 Hobart race skippering Larry Ellison’s Sayonara.
'I assembled my management team for the job, including Rodney Keenan and Steve Cotton,' Delegat said. 'Cotton was the main helmsman and tactician on Living Doll. He’s done a number of Volvo races. I built the team from there. In Auckland you don’t have to go far to find the talent. There are class sailors everywhere.'
Giacomo has just put the frighteners on the all-conquering Wild Oats XI, leading her round the initial part of the course in the CYCA Trophy – Passage Series race on Sydney Harbour on December 14, one of the lead-up races to the Boxing Day start of the Hobart race.
Now Delegat is looking to the feature race and is not interested in place dividends.
'My passion is ocean racing. This VOR 70 caught my imagination. It inspired me,' he said. 'We are confident in this boat. We have shown we can sail the boat well and sail a good race down to Hobart.
'I am 64. I’ve spent 25 years on and off boats. I feel my time has come. Giacomo is the boat to do the job. She carries the spirit of my grandfather, who started our vineyards. I’m skipper. I steer. I’m in the afterguard.'
Delegat says the Rolex Sydney Hobart will come down to conditions.
'We think if we having anything between 18 and 20 knots, reaching and running, we will be in with a strong chance. In the Trophy Series race where we outpaced Wild Oats XI for a while, we were flying. We made over 20 knots downwind and upwind.
'We’re ready,' he said.