Daryl Wislang on board Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing during the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. Daryl is the pit and boat captain and is currently racing the third leg of the race from Abu Dhabi to China. Photo: Ian Roman. Insert: Daryl waves goodbye to his family while heading back on his yacht before the start of the third leg. Photo: Andrew Board.

Nelson’s Wislang taking on the world

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As Daryl Wislang walked the gauntlet of sailing fans, media and curious bystanders keen to see what all the commotion was about, he looks up at the pavilion containing friends and family and waved goodbye to his wife Jess and six month old daughter Pearl.

It’s the last time he’ll see them for around 23 days and he says leaving them is toughest part of his job – a job widely regarded as one of the toughest in the world.

Daryl – a former Nelson Yacht Club member and Waimea College head boy – is boat captain on the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing yacht, which sails in the Volvo Ocean Race.

The third of the nine-leg race took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates last week, and there he spoke with Nelson Weekly just half an hour before he hopped on his yacht for the next leg of the race to China – a leg which his team is currently leading at the halfway mark.

He says being a professional sailor is what he dreamed of when growing up in Nelson but it does have its downsides – notably, time away from his young, Wellington-based family. “It’s pretty hard with a six month old baby, I’m going to be at sea for more than half of her first year of life so I’ll miss quite a few things, but that’s the way it goes.”

Daryl’s team is joint leaders after the first three legs and he says he’s confident they can take the whole race out. “We have a really experienced and professional team so we’re aiming to win the race.”

It’s the third round-the-world race for Daryl, after racing for Spanish-based Telefonica Blue in 2008/09 and with Camper Team New Zealand in 2011/12. In those races he finished third and second respectively.

This year the race started in Alicante, Spain, before heading to Capetown, Abu Dhabi, China, Auckland, Brazil, Newport in the United States, Portugal, France and then finishing in Sweden.

He says he wanted to come back for a third race for one main reason – to win it. “I love the Volvo Ocean Race for the challenge, the camaraderie and the long-lasting friendships that you make with your crew mates,” he says. “But the real reason I’m back is the fact that I haven’t won one yet. It’s time to put that right and I’m confident the Abu Dhabi team gives me the best chance of that.”

As boat captain, Daryl is in charge of getting everything ready on the boat and making sure the team has all the equipment it needs. It also means if something breaks down, he’s the first called on to fix it.

The race is expected to arrive in Auckland in late February.