Superyachts on track to smash Sydney to Hobart race record

Lynette Rowe
December 28, 2017

Wild Oats XI has secured a historic win of the Sydney to Hobart race thanks to some ideal weather.

The annual dash down the coast has not been without drama this year, with Comanche and Wild Oats nearly colliding near the exit to Sydney Heads after the later vessel appeared to tack too close to its rival.

"If we thought it was a blatant infringement we would have done our turn".

Thousands of spectators lined the Derwent for the extraordinary finish, and despite the late stalling, Wild Oats XI still smashed Perpetual Loyal's 2016 record of one day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds by almost five hours.

As the boats were leaving Sydney Harbour and turning out to sea, Comanche came within seconds of colliding with Wild Oats XI's stern, triggering screaming between the crews and Comanche flying a red protest flag. "So I am not concerned about it at all". The other two super-maxis in the fleet, Black Jack and InfoTrack, are third and fourth respectively.

Now with darkness coming on at 9.10 pm local time, Wild Oats has just 5.5 miles to sail and has accelerated to 9.5knot, while LDV Comanche has 6.3 miles to sail and is recording 8.2 knots.

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The win is Wild Oats XI's ninth in the great race.

Comanche had held a lead of up to 20-nautical miles overnight, but Richards kept Wild Oats closer to the coast of Tasmania in the strong north-east winds and jockeyed for the lead. Comanche came in 26 minutes and 34 seconds behind.

After failing to conclude her last two tilts towards Hobart it was a magnificent tactical effort from Richards and the crew aboard Oats, who had to clamber this morning to fix a ripped sail to get her back into contention for the tilt at yet more bluewater glory.

Celestial, Quest, Ichi Ban and Rockall, all TP52s, are also in the hunt. Quest, a two-time handicap victor is a 52 footer and is co-owned by former television host Paul Clitheroe (who sailed her to victory in the 2015 edition of the race under the name Balance) and Bob Steel (a multiple victor of sailing's holy grail).

Just three of the 102 boats that started have retired, while Opt2Go Scamp has pulled in for repairs and still hopes to rejoin the race and finish.

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