FOR 31 years Bob Robertson has been "chasing a dream", but this year's Sydney to Hobart will be his last.
The Mooloolaba Yacht Club member admits to restless nights as his mind digests the numerous variables that can mean the difference between success and failure in the great race, which starts today in Sydney Harbour.
Make no mistake. The event and the owner-skipper, who will attempt to win overall honours aboard Lunchtime Legend, have become intertwined.
"I got into sailing probably later in life than I wanted to," Robertson, 73, said as he grappled with the decision of what sails to use on the 12.3m vessel, which he also skippered last year.
"But due to business and family pressure, this is how the situation evolved.
"Since then I've spent millions of hours chasing a dream."
Robertson first attempted to win the race in 1981 with Hot Prospect II.
He admits to being a "greenhorn" back then - lofty in ambition but short on the experience that is needed to succeed in the race he describes as "for all Australians".
Lunchtime Legend is his fifth Sydney to Hobart boat.
"I remember the first time we came down here 31 years ago. We thought we were pretty good," he said.
"We were greenhorns. We knew nothing about it.
"It's more than having a good crew. It's a matter of getting the preparation right."
The closest Robertson came to winning was third place overall in 1991 with Queensland Maid.
Less than nine minutes separated him from victory as Atara triumphed.
Last year the retired builder-developer was leading deep into the race, only to "sail into soft breeze and the big boats got away".
He would finish equal 12th.
Robertson, of Shelly Beach, intends to win this year.
"I'm reasonably confident at this stage," he said.
"I've spent a few hours awake at night thinking about, will I use this mainsail or will I go out to sea or will I come in from sea ... which way is the breeze going to be heavier."
He added: "This is the right time (to retire from the race).
"I'm fit and I probably could go another couple, but I believe there's another side to life out there, and my wife and family have been very considerate to me and it's time to do the right thing by them."
Join the Community.
Get your local news, your way.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.