Sydney to Hobart ‘fun’ for supermaxi family
It's not your average family getaway but Neutral Bay businessman Jim Cooney is not a big fan of them.
When he spends time with his family, he wants it to be memorable.
And there's few things less forgettable that testing yourself in one of the toughest, roughest and challenging ocean races in the world.
With wife and business partner Samantha Grant, daughter Julia, 22, and son James, 21, Cooney will race the multimillion-dollar, ocean marauder Comanche south in a bid to secure a second line honours win for the family in one of the world's most famous ocean classics.
Cooney and his children raced off with their first one two years ago but have their eye on another in the 75th edition of the race which started back in 1945 when nine small yachts and their intrepid crews set sail on a cruise from Sydney to Hobart.
"The Cooney's were a quarter of the crew in the Transpac and we are a quarter of the crew in this year's Sydney to Hobart," said Cooney of four family members racing the supermaxi, formerly owned by Netscape billionaire Jim Clark and his supermodel wife Kristy Hinze-Clark, south on Boxing Day.
I don't think anyone who has worked hard and struggled hard and has reached a modicum of success is content unless there is a challenge
"This is what we all like to do together.
"It is never comfortable or pleasant. They say one of the best kept secrets in the world is the pleasures of ocean racing.
"For us, we need to get a buzz out of it. It wouldn't be a family fun thing if we didn't get a buzz.
"I don't think anyone who has worked hard and struggled hard and has reached a modicum of success is content unless there is a challenge.
"No one wants a free ride. It's much more fun if you have to work for it. Even more fun when you have to race for it against someone."
That someone will be the likes of the defending champion Wild Oats XI, the Hong Kong supermaxi Scallywag and her predominantly Australian crew, the former winner Infotrack from Sydney and the Queensland yacht Black Jack.
Cooney, who founded TCI Renewables - which designs and develops wind farms - in the early 1990 with his wife, said many of the practices employees in business translate into ocean racing and campaigning.
"The boat doesn't do it on its own. It has to have a proper management. It's very rewarding to piece good team together,'' Cooney said.
"The big step is finding the right people, the right mindset and getting the best out them as a team."
And as in business, Cooney wants to be successful in the anniversary race - while having a lot of fun.
"It is a huge excitement and exhilarating experience being on Comanche. It's mind boggling the power it has. It takes your breath away,'' he said.
"The fastest I have done is 37 knots - it has done faster. It felt like driving a speed boat. She was just skipping over the waves.
"The goal is to get the line honours again.
"We were frustrated last year that we lead a race that was most definitely not our race with a long transition and soft wind, but we held our position from the skinny boats (Wild Oats and Black Jack) until around Tasman.
"We got a little close to Tasman Island and they were four to five miles behind, saw what happened to us, and avoided it.
"That is the downside of being the lead boat. We watched their tail-lights."
Julia and brother James rewrote history two years ago as the first siblings on a Sydney to Hobart line honours winner.
Julia, then 19, was also the youngest ever female to race on a line honours victor.