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Wild Oats XI Takes Lead at Start of Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

Five-time line honors winner Wild Oats XI led the 88-boat fleet at the start of sailing’s Sydney to Hobart race, even after its mainsail winch failed 11 minutes before the start.

The crew of the 100-foot supermaxi, owned by millionaire Bob Oatley and skippered by Mark Richards, managed to get the winch back online and the yacht pulled ahead of its nearest rival Investec Loyal as they approached the Sydney Heads, according to the race website.

Wild Oats XI last year claimed its fifth line honors victory from six starts after the dismissal of a protest lodged by the race committee alleging a breach of rules by failing to have an operational radio as it entered Bass Strait. This year is the 67th edition of the race that takes competitors down Australia’s southeast coast and across Bass Strait to the island state of Tasmania.

Three years ago, Wild Oats XI became the first boat to beat the fleet to Hobart four years in a row. It finished as the 2009 runner-up to New Zealand’s Alfa Romeo.

The record for most line honors wins is held by Morna/Kurrewa IV, which sailed to seven victories under two different owners and two different names, the last time in 1960 as Kurrewa IV.

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