Wild Oats XI hunts record in Sydney-Hobart race

Wild Oats XI hunts record in Sydney-Hobart race

SYDNEY - Agence France-Presse
Wild Oats XI hunts record in Sydney-Hobart race

Wild Oats XI is on course to breaking its own record in the Sydney-Hobart race.

Wild Oats XI was on track yesterday to beat the Sydney to Hobart yacht race record and claim a sixth line honors win as controversy raged over the expulsion of supermaxi Wild Thing.

The favorite led the 76-vessel fleet out of Sydney Harbour on Dec. 26 in the annual 628-nautical mile bluewater classic, boosted by a strong southerly wind.

A lighter breeze during the night saw second-placed Ragamuffin-Loyal close the gap, but as northeasterly breezes kicked in Wild Oats XI pulled away again in downwind conditions.

Own record

Later, its lead had been extended to some 50 nautical miles after a run across the treacherous Bass Strait, reaching speeds of 24 knots in the dash to the finish line at Constitution Dock in Tasmania.
With 174 nautical miles to go, Wild Oats was well on the way to beating its own race record of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds, set in 2005.

Fellow maxi Lahana was running third, ahead of Black Jack and Loki, with no retirements so far. Black Jack was on track to take handicap honours, which takes into account the dimensions of each boat in the fleet.

Wild Oats skipper Mark Richards told Channel Nine television the record was on his mind. “It is certainly something to go for,” he said. “Its going to be a great ride. It all depends on what happens with the southerly front at the other end.”

According to reports, a south-westerly change was expected some time this evening. If it brings calm conditions, then Wild Oats could fall short of the record.