2020 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race Women's press conference at Cruising Yacht Club of Australia © Salty Dingo 2020

Following his 2019 line honours victory in Comanche, Jim Cooney returns for the 76th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race to skipper a familiar boat with a new name.

Cooney has renamed his Volvo 70, previously known as Maserati to Willow, after the Australian Technology Company of which he became a Board Member in 2019.

Cooney purchased the yacht in 2016, from legendary sailor Italian Giovanni Soldini and finished sixth on line and seventh overall in the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Cooney then owned Comanche for three years, taking line honours and setting the race record in 2017 then placing 3rd in 2018. Cooney now resumes command, along with Cooney family members Samantha, James and Douglas who will race south for the first time. The crew also includes a star cast including Kiwis Stu Bannatyne and Daryl Wislang and ex-Australian Ironman Ky Hurst.

“I am super excited to be back on the Volvo 70 this year, it’s a great boat in all conditions” said the Sydney Yachtsman Cooney. “The change of name represents a refreshed and dynamic approach and we have worked hard on improvements to the boat in the off season. With Willow taking on the two super maxis this year, we are really focussed on extracting the best out of the boat and fighting for the win.”

The new Willow name comes from a global technology company based in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 2017, the company offers a software solution for owners and operators of real assets (buildings and infrastructure). Its core offering is building digital “twins” of physical assets and these intelligent digital copies allow owners to track and visualise real-time and historical data about a building’s performance (energy usage or maintenance) and occupants/users (how many people use certain rooms and when) or for rail, predict and repair faults in railway equipment before they become critical issues.  

“Through our technology, Willow is digitising the built world and modernising industries that have historically been slow to adopt change” said CEO and CO-Founder, Joshua Ridley. “As a company we’ve also sought to push the envelope and we couldn’t be more thrilled about the partnership with Jim.”

Willow’s technology has received global interest from technology heavyweights Microsoft and is being applied to real assets including commercial offices, corporate campuses, rail, road, and mining infrastructure. Willow appointed Jim Cooney to the board along with the former CEO of Macquarie, Nicholas Moore as Chairman in 2019.