South Coast yachtsman Peter Tucker believes he is on course for divisional victory in this year's Sydney to Hobart race.
With a new crew and vast performance improvements made on his 13.9 metre Mummery sloop, Ice Fire, Tucker is confident of bettering last year's mid-field result, where the vessel languished in light winds at the back end of the race.
"The boat's all organised and the crew's all organised - it's just a matter of ironing the creases," Tucker said.
"Because the crew changes all the time, you've got to get them organised so that they're on the same page with things."
Similarly to last year, the Culburra-based venture will include a strong international flavour in its 11-man crew, the first of which will land in Sydney today.
But it's better knowledge of the vessel that has Tucker primed for success.
Ice Fire, first launched in 1988, was one of the first carbon fibre yachts of its kind, but it has tasted only limited success since Tucker took ownership in June last year.
"What we learnt most of all last year was that the boat does not perform at all under 10 knots of breeze," he said.
"Boats could sail backwards better than what we could sail forwards. Just because of the design of the boat, it just sticks to the water too much.
"The boat loves to be driven hard, and that's why this year we've selected a better crew that can handle the hard driving of the boat. We were very timid last year.
"We're always optimistic, but, as with anything, there's just too many curve balls that can be thrown at you."
Before Tucker's tenure, Ice Fire was an overall handicap contender in the 2000 Sydney to Hobart, before a torn mainsail forced then owner, Sydney's Terry Mullens, to retire.
The boat, which will race under a new division in this year's Sydney to Hobart, has traditionally faired well in big-ocean races.
"We're racing under a new division this year because we don't rate really well in the IRC handicap system," Tucker said.
"We're just trying something different to see if we get a different result."