CREWS are bracing for grim conditions ahead of the 2013 National Launceston to Hobart yacht race.
The 27-boat fleet will set sail from Beauty Point at 10am today, before dashing down the Tamar River into Bass Strait.
David Allan, skipper of Northern yacht Obsession, said the 285 nautical mile race would be no holiday.
``The plan is to get to Tasman Island as fast as we possibly can,'' he said.
``We may need to take shelter for a couple of hours after that, or scale the boat down and accept the fact that we'll be pounded by waves.
``The sea can be a scary place at night.''
Following light conditions anticipated for early in the race and favourable winds forecast for tomorrow, conditions are likely to take a dramatic turn for the worse early Sunday morning.
Strong winds are expected to make travelling tough for the bulk of the fleet as they round Tasman Island and head across Swan Bay.
Speaking from the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club at Beauty Point before the race, Mr Allan said he was quietly confident of a good result in his third Launceston to Hobart.
``We should fare somewhere in the middle of the field,'' he said.
``If we do everything right, we may be in with a shot after handicaps are taken into account.''
Obsession is one of four Northern yachts competing in this year's race after Lawless - a Northern boat many considered ``the one to beat'' - was a late scratching.
Mr Allan was quick to play down any suggestion of rivalry between crews from the state's North and South.
``I do wish there were more Northern boats competing in this year's race,'' he said.
``But from our perspective, the strategy doesn't change. We need to focus on overtaking any yacht that might be out ahead of us until we're across the line at Battery Point.''
Mr Allan said the advice he has imparted on his five crew members, including 16-year old son Dmitri, was simple.
``We're all buddies and we've got to take care of each other,'' he said.
``We need to make sure we're all on the same page, try not to get frustrated, and enjoy the race together.''
Mr Allan said the return journey back up North after the race was likely to be a more casual affair.
``I'm looking forward to a cold beer or two, and dropping the anchor along the way in the hope of catching a fish.''