As a boxer on a racing yacht, Danny Green knows he's a novelty. He's even got a ready-made headline: "I've gone from the jab to the jib," he says.
Along with surfer Sally Fitzgibbons, former Wallabies star Phil Waugh and world champion sailor Tom Slingsby, Green makes up the celebrity contingent of the 18-member crew of the supermaxi Perpetual Loyal, starting the 70th annual Rolex Sydney to Hobart race on Boxing Day.
It was an absolutely thrilling experience. (But) I was terrified that I was going to f---ing die.Danny Green
The heavy-hitting celebs – literally, in Green's case – have been brought aboard to help the team's sponsor, the Loyal Foundation, raise money for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation, a charity that provides children's medical equipment to Australian hospitals.
A different set of ropes to learn
While he's highly accomplished inside the ropes, the former world champ is not afraid to admit that he still has plenty of ropes to learn on the water. He has completed the arduous trip down the Australian east coast once before, on the same boat in 2009 (known then as Investec Loyal).
Then, the man regarded as one of Australia's hardest and fittest was the first to lose his lunch. Green by name and, it turns out, by facial colour.
"I just thought, 'Oh far out, is it going to be like this the whole way? This is going to be hideous'," Green recalls.
Things improved – marginally. "It was an absolutely thrilling experience. (But) I was terrified that I was going to f---ing die."
The bluewater classic is not for the faint of heart. The 35-tonne Perpetual Loyal is one of five 100-footers which, in a fleet of 119 yachts, will race 1163km, much of it in open sea, battling high winds and Bass Strait waves that can climb to the height of a 12-storey building.
But Green, who was forced to pull out of the 2010 and 2011 races because of injuries, says it's the camaraderie and mateship that has brought him back to compete again. And he likes their chances better than in 2009, when they were fourth to cross the finishing line in Hobart.
A heavyweight toilet scrubber
But with all those sailing pros running around, what does he bring to the team?
"I don't know much about sailing, mate, so I'm really there just to provide a bit of a hand," Green says. "And provide entertainment. Watching me try to navigate my way around [the boat] is usually fairly humourous."
Beyond being a deck hand, he isn't entirely sure what his role will be. "Fair chance I'll be scrubbing toilets. But I'm OK with that," Green says.
More realistically, he may be tasked with working the winches as a grinder. "If they want me to grind, I'll grind. I think the last time I did a lot of zipping and unzipping of bags with these big things called sails in them. Probably one of my most important jobs is to sit on the side and hang my legs over."
Green's boxing career hasn't exactly prepared him for competition at sea. There's little in common between throwing punches in the ring and punching through a heaving ocean.
"Sometimes when you crack 'em and you drop 'em down and they can't go on and the referee calls the fight off, that's when [boxing is] very thrilling," Green says. "But my life wasn't on the line when I was fighting. Out in the middle of the ocean, f--- knows what's going to happen."
Doing it for the kids
Apart from surviving the journey with body and pride intact, Green has another serious ambition – to help the Loyal Foundation raise $1 million.
"To be serious, I'm blessed to be able to do this," he says. "I find myself in a very lucky position. And (yacht owner) Anthony Bell's done an immense job raising a lot of money for an incredible cause. Saving kids' lives. And at the same time, possibly putting his and his crew's lives on the line to do that."
According to Bell, the CEO of advisory and accounting firm Bell Partners, the team's efforts are paying off. "We're sitting around $650,000 dollars so far and the lead-up to Hobart should see us break that million dollar record again," he says.
Bell is also in the race to win it, and makes it clear there will be no celebrity loafing. "Everyone's got a job to do," he says. "There are no passengers on the boat."
Competition for line honours is expected to be stiff. Fellow supermaxi Wild Oats XI has reached Hobart first in seven of the last nine races. Perpetual Loyal has been a strong contender, beating Wild Oats home by three minutes in 2011 to win (as Investec Loyal), and losing to them by three hours in 2013.
A civil Waugh
Waugh, who played 79 Tests for the Wallabies and has raced numerous times on Perpetual Loyal, downplays the rivalry between the race's two heavyweight contenders.
"I think it's a good rivalry," he says. "We're certainly looking forward to racing the other 100-footers, and not just Wild Oats."
Green, like a true pugilist stoking a rivalry with some pre-fight intimidation, has a chilling message for nearby rivals at the frenetic start of the race.
"Don't get within three or four feet of us," he warns. "Because that's as far as my projectile vomit can extend. So if you come too close I can mess your deck right up."