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Wild Oats XI claims Sydney-Hobart

Wild Oats XI claimed line honours in Tasmania
Wild Oats XI claimed line honours in Tasmania

Australian maxi Wild Oats XI won an unprecedented fourth straight Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Sunday.

The 30m yacht completed the 628-nautical mile race down the Australian eastern seaboard in an official time of one day 20 hours and 34 minutes.

Wild Oats XI set the record of one day 18 hours 40 minutes 10 seconds in 2005.

The Mark Richards-skippered yacht, which finished at 2234 GMT, came out on top after a tight duel with 2003 winner Skandia and a collision with a shark.

Skandia led for much of Saturday across Bass Strait but finished second, one hour seven minutes behind Wild Oats.

Ichi Ban was third for the second year in a row, followed by ASM Shockwave 5, Limit and Black Jack.

Richards said the incident with the shark had a positive outcome because having to stop and clear it from the rudder also removed some debris from the keel that had slowed the boat since the start.

"It was a godsend in the end because the second we got him (the shark) off, the boat was back to its old self," Richards said.

"It might have been something off a spectator boat, but we just never stopped. When you are doing 20 to 25 knots all the time it's a hard thing to work out what to actually do. So we were sort of waiting for the opportunity."

Wild Oats XI equalled the record for three successive victories, achieved by Claude Plowman's Morna from 1946-48, in 2007.

Skandia skipper Grant Wharington said: "We did all we could to spring an upset but that thing is just so fast.

"We always knew that once we turned the corner and started reaching and going up wind they were going to be pretty quick. We knew we would have needed probably 10 miles on them at Tasman Island to even have a chance."

Three boats retired, including Georgia, a New Zealand-built Farr 52, which broke a rudder, took on water and sank.

Its 14 crew were rescued by two passing race boats and taken safely to land by police launch late on Friday.

This year's event marks 10 years since six sailors were killed as fierce storms battered the fleet.

see also
Dramatic rescue in Australia race
27 Dec 08 |  Asia-Pacific

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