Yachting legend Sir James Hardy embraces both the amateur and professional sides of the Sydney to Hobart as he prepares to sail in a boat that took overall race honours almost 60 years ago.
First held in 1945, the Sydney to Hobart will later this month be sailed for the 75th time.
Now 87 years old, Sir James sailed in the race 12 times, the first being in 1955 and the last in 1994, its 50th edition.
His outstanding sailing portfolio includes world championships, helming yachts to victory in the Admiral's Cup and skippering three Australian challenges for the America's Cup and competed in countless ocean races.
His earliest recollections of the Sydney to Hobart stretch back almost to its start.
"Our next door neighbour Colin Hazelgrove bought my father's old yacht Nerida in 1946 and he sailed in the 1948 Hobart and finished fifth overall," Sir James told AAP.
"I got pretty interested in the Sydney Hobart race about that time."
He will Skipper Nerida this weekend in the Classic Sydney Hobart Yachts Regatta.
While the supermaxis battle for line honours invariably garners most of the headlines, Sir James stressed in yachting circles the battle for overall victory generated the most interest.
"I like to think it (the race) can be split into two, the Corinthian (amateur) type sailors and the professional sailors," he said.
"The costs of running those big yachts and the crew costs and everything is enormous.
"But it is wonderful to have the range from 100-footers to the minimum 30-foot minimum waterline length."
When Nerida took overall honours in 1950, Sir James wasn't aboard and handicap victory eluded him,in his dozen cracks at the race.
He came closest in 1980 with his 43-foot boat Police Car.
"We were clear winners at Tasman Island but like all Hobart races they are never won and never lost until they are finished and coming up the Derwent was too much," Sir James said.
"We looked like we were still going to win overall but we had to wait a few days and a small boat beat us on handicap.
'But believe me, that's the charm of the Hobart race, everybody seriously has a chance of winning that race (on handicap)."
Australian Associated Press