Christmas in Sydney is a strange affair. Some people are rushing about buying presents, making plans for Christmas Day, but here in the Volvo Ocean Race camp, it is a hive of activity of a different kind.
Thoughts are not on Christmas Day's menu, but concentrated only on what the day after will offer as the Volvo fleet lines up for the third start of the Volvo Ocean Race, taking in the famous CYCA Sydney to Hobart Yacht race along the way.
Although most of the crews will say they are looking forward to it, all will admit that the CYCA Sydney to Hobart yacht race is one of the most challenging offshore races in existence, and that, coupled with just a short pit stop in Hobart, makes leg three of the Volvo Ocean Race one of the most interesting legs.
Leg three to Auckland, New Zealand, is a tight, 2,050 nautical-mile leg, with racing suspended for just three and a half hours for each boat in Hobart, Tasmania, before restarting again off the mouth of the Derwent River. It promises to be one of the hardest fought contests of the Volvo Ocean Race, with the crews pushing their boats perhaps more than ever, in their quest to be first into Auckland, the City of Sails.
Race points overall currently stand with the German yacht, illbruck, winner of the previous two legs, in the lead with 16 points. Behind her, on 12 points, is the CYCA's own entry, Team News Corp, led by Jez Fanstone and twice in the top three on the previous two legs.
Just one point behind, on 11 points, is Grant Dalton's red and grey Amer Sports One, the only design from the board of Frers in the race. Dalton starts the next leg with his ribs strapped from injury he suffered during leg two.
Fourth overall is Gurra Krantz's SEB. Krantz is the only Volvo Ocean Race skipper who has not raced a Sydney Hobart race before, and his team's second place on leg two brings them up the leader board.
Assa Abloy with Britain's Neal McDonald in the driving seat, also racing for Sweden, follows SEB, in fifth position. Although showing good boat speed, this team is still looking for a podium finish.
Yet to be in the top three, is Knut Frostad's Davidson design, djuice, currently lying in sixth place and also looking for a good result on this leg.
Tyco, with Kevin Shoebridge at the helm, has an overall score of six points, after gear damage forced them out of leg two, leaving them in a disappointing seventh place on the leader board. Shoebridge will be putting the pedal to the floor on this leg in his effort to be first into his hometown of Auckland. He describes the Bass Strait as a heinous piece of water, after a particularly hard race last year in their tune-up boat.
Amer Sports Too, with Lisa McDonald in charge, a skipper with plenty of Sydney Hobart experience, will be another team which will be pushing hard to post a good result and move up the points table.
Position reports will be posted regularly on www.VolvoOceanRace.org and stills photographer, Rick Tomlinson, and cameraman George Johns, will be crossing the Bass Strait the easy way, in a helicopter, shooting all the action.
Meanwhile, out on Sydney harbour today, under the blazing sun, the Volvo fleet paraded for all to see, laden with guests, before slipping quietly under the Pyrmont Bridge and circling round Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour's inner pool. In front of a huge crowd lining the harbour walls, the crews received prizes for their achievements on leg two, standing on the Aqua Shell, a floating stage, with the race boats tucked neatly alongside.
Seamanship Award presented by Fredrik Heijne - President, Sjoo Sandstrom
Roger Nilson - Amer Sports One
Gareth Cooke - Team SEB
Best 24-hour run presented by Fredrik Heijne, President, Sjoo Sandstrom
Best Media Contribution presented by Peter Dexter, Regional Director, Walenius Wilhemsen Lines Oceania
Pepe Ribes Rubio - Amer Sports One
Leg two - third place Waterford Crystal Trophy, presented by Matthew Taylor, CEO, Waterways Authority
Team News Corp
Leg two - second place Waterford Crystal Trophy, presented by Sir James Hardy, Honorary Mayor Sydney Volvo Ocean Race Village
Leg two - first place Waterford Crystal Trophy, presented by Richard Snijders - MD Volvo Car Australia