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Bell happy with Sydney Hobart hopeful

AAP logoAAP 13/12/2016 Adrian Warren

Down on celebrity wattage but up on sailing voltage, Perpetual LOYAL's owner-skipper Anthony Bell is hoping for a spark of overdue Sydney to Hobart luck, after an encouraging first outing with some proven winners.

Bell, who took line honours in 2011 with his previous supermaxi Invetsec LOYAL, was forced to retire from the last two Sydney to Hobarts.

He has deliberately kept a lower profile in the leadup to the 2016 race starting on Boxing Day.

However, he was upbeat after his boat finished second to rival supermaxi Wild Oats XI in Tuesday's Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour.

His boat was quicker upwind than the eight-time Sydney to Hobart line honours winner

"The blokes are very ecstatic in the bar," Bell told AAP after Tuesday's race.

"We've been very quiet about our leadup this year and we're usually loud, but this time we've tried to keep expectations down and we're pleased with what we' achieved today."

When Bell heard last year's Sydney to Hobart line honours winner Comanche wasn't returning in 2016, he moved swiftly to secure the services of around half of their crew.

"Their knowledge of how to set up a wider boat like ours and sail the boat a bit better has been really good," Bell said.

Bell usually has a handful of celebrities aboard for the Sydney to Hobart, but media personality Erin Molan is the only one travelling south this year.

"(Former Australian cricket captain) Michael Clarke would have gone again but he's commentating now on the Boxing Day Test and (Wallaby) Kurtley Beale is 100 per cent wanting to go again, but he's playing with Wasps (rugby club) over in England." Bell said.

The 80-foot Beau Geste will have celebrity chef Donna Hay aboard for the Sydney to Hobart and she was part of their crew for the Big Boat Challenge.

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