Successful Sydney to Hobart campaigner Jim Cooney misses his supermaxi Comanche but expects his other boat can challenge for a top three line honours finish in this year’s race.
In three campaigns under Cooney, Comanche earned line honours wins in 2017 and 19 and was third to Hobart in 2018 – establishing the greatest modern rivalry of the race with Wild Oats XI.
Cooney sold Comanche to a Russian shortly after last year’s race.
He will contest the 2020 event in his renamed Volvo 70 Willow, which finished 12th across the line as Maserati last year, when it was chartered by a group of Polish sailors.
Both Cooney and his wife, Samantha Grant, who were co-owners of Comanche, stressed it was time to move on from that boat, which he described as “an extraordinary piece of naval architecture.
“It was very difficult, even the last day we signed it over we were second guessing ourselves ‘are we doing the right thing?'” Cooney said on Thursday.
“Because you really do miss it.
“It’s an exhilarating boat and not just fun to sail but it’s a marvel of engineering, and it’s just so impressive to have been a part of it.
“Happy we did the three years with it, it was a great experience.”
Grant, who was instrumental in persuading Cooney to buy Comanche and will be on board this year along with their sons James and Douglas, expressed similar sentiments.
“It was sad to see it (Comanche) go and we have had some fantastic memories on it,” Grant said.
“It was an exciting time and definitely worth doing, I don’t regret a minute of it, but life goes on.
“You have to move and change things up a bit.”
Cooney didn’t rule out the possibility of racing a supermaxi in the Hobart race again.
Willow, named after an Australian technology company whose board Cooney joined in 2019, is one of the boats expected to vie for a top three line honours finish this year – behind the two supermaxis Black Jack and InfoTrack.
“Numbers would say that we should be the third boat across the line,” Cooney, who is also looking for an improved handicap performance, said.
The boat finished sixth across the line and seventh overall the last time Cooney campaigned it in the race in 2016.
“We’ve got a whole new sail wardrobe and we’ve renewed a lot of the running gear,” Cooney said.