Cook Sam De Lorenzo of Namadgi prepares lunch for the crew as the prepare for this year's Sydney to Hobart.

Cook Sam De Lorenzo of Namadgi makes lunch for the crew as the prepare for this year's Sydney to Hobart. Photo: Brendan Esposito

A Calabrian-style bolognese is Namadgi's secret weapon in tackling this year's Sydney to Hobart.

The Canberra Ocean Racing Club's boat will run in the Performance Handicap System division in the race which starts on Boxing Day.

It won't be competing against the big Maxis such as Wild Oats XI and will take about four days to complete the trip down the east coast to Tasmania.

Which means Italian-born Sam DeLorenzo has put his hand up for the most important job on the boat - the cook.

Having migrated to Australia in 1961, the 57-year-old brings his mum's authentic pasta sauce as one of the key ingredients to keeping Namadgi's crew happy.

He said every meal needed to be ''held in one hand'', so the crew could work while they eat if needed. It also needed to be tasty - a cracking meal can lift the spirits of a soaked crew battling some of nature's worst weather.

For breakfast it's cereal, cake for morning tea, sangers and rolls at lunch, more sweets for arvo tea and then plenty of carbohydrates for dinner.

All the main meals were pre-cooked so DeLorenzo can reheat them quickly and get back to helping sail the ship.

''When spirits are down food usually picks them up,'' he said. ''You've got to be able to hold it one hand, eat it in one hand standing up in action and be able to put it down quickly … the favourite is a pasta bolognese, which I use my mother's recipe. It's a Calabrian-style bolognese, which is tomato-based, it's been handed down from generation to generation, but there's something on Namadgi that makes it taste better.''

DeLorenzo caught the sailing bug when he migrated to Australia. Sailing on the high seas left a lasting impression on the then five-year-old.

''I just have these visions of being out on the ocean with that colour blue, nothing out there except a few birds and some flying fish and I've relived that dream a few times going to Noumea and Vanuatu on Namadgi,'' DeLorenzo said.

It's DeLorenzo's second Sydney to Hobart, but Namadgi skipper Paul Jones' ninth.

The former Navy supply officer is in charge of Canberra's only entry in the 68-year-old race.

He expects to finish either late on Monday or early Tuesday, making his yacht the last official ''event'' of Canberra's centenary.

Namadgi's sails will carry Canberra's centenary logo for 628 nautical miles and through some of Australia's roughest water.

''It was something I was introduced to, sailing, while in the navy,'' Jones said.

''There's a lot of people who, because they've served on big ships, the last thing they want to do is go to sea on a small ship. It's very uncomfortable. On the other hand, I just like being at sea and sailing to me is just the pinnacle of sports.''

The rest of the crew are Peter Morris, Patrice de Caritat, Steven Ring, Marcus Morley, Michael Martin and Peter Ottesen.