The experienced Walker was Britain's America's Cup captain in 2003
Englishman Ian Walker will skipper Irish entry Green Dragon as a revamped Volvo Ocean Race sets sails from the Spanish port of Alicante on Saturday.
The two-time Olympic silver medallist and his 10-man crew, who are backed by Chinese funds, are rated as strong outsiders among the eight-yacht race.
The boats set sail in the Mediterranean for the first time as part of a new route through India and South Asia.
The race will be run over 37,000 miles and ends in St Petersburg next June.
The updated route brings new hazards to the crews, with pirates cruising the waters in India, Singapore and China.
Wooden fishing boats spread along the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia could also prove tricky to negotiate.
The last edition of the race, which finished in 2006, saw the death of one sailor, who was washed overboard, and the rescue of a Spanish crew after their boat sank.
The 2008-09 competitors begin their quest in the 6,500-mile first leg between Alicante and Cape Town in South Africa.
The competing yachts receive points according to their position in each leg with half points awarded at scoring gates along the route and for the seven in-port races.
Spanish favourites Telefonica Blue lead the standings with four points after winning last weekend's in-port races in Alicante, with rivals Ericsson Team International close behind.
Volvo Ocean Race 2008 schedule:
Leg 1: Alicante, Spain to South Africa, via scoring waypoint at Archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, 6,500 nautical miles start 11 October 2008
Leg 2: South Africa to the Middle East, via scoring waypoint at 20 degrees south, 5,000 nm, start 16 November 2008
Leg 3: Middle East to India, 1,600 nm, start 20 December 2008
Leg 4: India to South East Asia, via scoring waypoint at island of Palau Weh, Indonesia, 2,000 nm, start 3 January 2009
Leg 5: South East Asia to China (port 1), 2,200 nm, start 24 January 2009
Leg 6: China (port 1) to China (port 2), 300 nm, start 8 February 2009
Leg 7: China (port 2) to Brazil, via scoring waypoints at 36 degrees South and Cape Horn, 12,000 nm, start 22 February 2009
Leg 8: Brazil to the North East USA, via scoring waypoint at Archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, 4,800 nm, start 18 April 2009
Leg 9: North East USA to Western Europe, via scoring waypoint on the longitude of St John, Newfoundland, 2,500 nm, start 16 May 2009
Leg 10: Western Europe to Sweden, 1,500 nm, start 6 June 2009
Leg 11: Sweden to Finish. 250 nm on a flexi-course, start 19 June 2009
In-port races will be held in Alicante, Middle East, South East Asia, China (port 2), Brazil, North East USA, Western Europe and Sweden.