ANZ Sail Fiji is a first for many of the competitors, including teenage brothers Nikolas (17) and James (15) Delegat.
Nikolas will be experiencing for the first time blue water sailing and will be keeping a close eye on his younger brother who has experienced a trans-Tasman crossing when they step on board their fathers Volvo 70 Giacomo to compete in the 1,100 nautical mile challenge.
Jim Delegat, world renowned winemaker and Auckland racing regular is confident the boys will hold their own when thrust into the crew positions when the race gets underway on Saturday 7 June at 1300 hours.
'With the experienced crew that we have assembled I have no doubt that both boys will work in well and make a great contribution to the adventure. Nikolas is a very capable grinder and all-rounder, he is fit and strong, James is as keen as mustard and will be one of three in the role of bow for the race,' said proud Dad, Jim.
'I started sailing when I was just five years old in Optis and back then was scared as anything but Mum and Dad were keen to get us sailing, so kept trying to encourage me. I’m really glad they did because now I race a Laser and my coach and Olympian Sara Winther has given me the guts to do the ANZ Sail Fiji race,' said a young smiling James.
'I’m really looking forward to being amongst it. The thrill of the race and being out in the open ocean not being able to see land is going to be awesome. I know it will have a feeling like heading toward nothing, but knowing that Fiji is at the finish line is pretty cool,' continued James.
When asked if he was nervous about the race James was slightly apprehensive, but convinced himself that he wasn’t nervous.
'I'm not really nervous at all. Just before most races I start to feel the adrenaline kick in so it takes away my nerves. But when I'm out on the water probably the fear of dropping our rig or splitting the hull open is the biggest fear. I definitely don’t want to see the inside of a lift raft!' said James.
Older brother Nikolas admitted he was nervous however having being out on Giacomo practicing with the crew last weekend he feels ready for the adventure and was very glad that he had competed the Advanced Sea Survival training.
'I definitely feel more secure now that I know how to get myself into a life raft, heaven forbid I hope that never happens, but it’s good to have the knowledge,' said Nikolas.
When asked what it was like racing with their father, the boys were enthusiastic with their responses.
'Dad is great! Sailing is his passion. He's not the kind of guy who is moving around doing everything but he likes to stand back and take it all in. He has a passion for sailing and we can see that with Giacomo. The moral and feedback he brings to the team is great,' said James.
'Dad is amazing on board, I am not putting him in the spot light because he is my father but he has formed a strong campaign for Giacomo and with his skills he is the glue and very much the leader of how Giacomo runs and how the public view the yacht. Without his life experiences with sailing and his manner I believe that Giacomo wouldn’t be to the standard it is.' said Nikolas.
Steve Cotton, boat captain for Giacomo will also be keeping a close eye on the young sailors. With multi round the world races, a few Trans Pac’s and 10 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Races under his belt, Cotton is the true definition of a Kiwi sailor.
'It is one of my highlights every time I go out on Giacomo with Steve as tactician or helming powering through the water and his personality always keeps the crew smiling and performing, even if you are exhausted after grinding hard Steve is awesome,' said James.
With a solid boat and expert guidance on board, Nikolas and James are sure to have an exciting and memorable race on board Giacomo. Apart from the usual sibling rivalry and occasional brotherly rants, the boys are looking forward to experiencing this race together.
'James and I are on different watches for a reason! Hahaha, Dad knows how we get so we avoided that before it even started!' laughed Nikolas.
Giacomo on the Waitemata Harbour, she is the former Volvo Ocean Race winner, Groupama - © Richard Gladwell
Giacomo and Beau Geste head for for Hobart - 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Crosbie Lorimer