Allen has more than a passing interest in what will come to pass. Along with his official duties with the race's sponsoring yacht club, he'll also be competing in the event as the skipper of Ichi Ban, the Volvo 70 fellow Aussie Grant Wharington campaigned in the 2005-06 edition of the round-the-world race. Last year, Ichi Ban finished second to Bob Oatley's 30-meter maxi Wild Oats XI, which is looking to match the race record of three straight line-honors victories (the boat also holds the race record of 1d, 18h, 14m, 10s, set in 2005). It won't be easy, as there are three other maxis in the race, all of which are hoping and scheming to be the first to Hobart. Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard, Wharington's Skandia, and the New Zealand entry Maximus (which dropped her rig last year on the first morning at sea and may scratch this year, too, after suffering an 8-inch crack in her keel on the delivery from Auckland), all have the power, and the all-star crews, to topple Oatley's dreams of a trifecta.