HOBART: Race favourites Wild Oats XI clinched their sixth Sydney to Hobart yacht race yesterday, beating their own race record.
The Mark Richards-skippered supermaxi, which had been pushed along for much of Thursday by strong northerly winds, crossed the finish line in Tasmania at 0723 (11.23 Bahrain time). Their official time was one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds.
Wild Oats set the previous record of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds in 2005 when they not only took line honours for the 628-nautical mile blue water classic but also won the overall handicap title as well.
"It was a really tough, testing race for the team and the crew and the gear handling," Richards told reporters at Constitution Dock after his team had initially thought they would miss the race record.
"It was a very, very tricky night last night and we got here and after last year's defeat the boys were on a real mission this year to redeem ourselves."
Last year's winners Ragamuffin Loyal - who pipped Wild Oats to the line by less than three minutes in 2011 - were about 50 nautical miles from the finish in second place when Richards and his crew crossed the line.
The Syd Fischer-owned Ragamuffin were mired in light winds and just after 0930 (1.30am Bahrain time) still had about 35 nautical miles to go to reach the finish.
However, they will face a race jury later to determine whether they will be penalised for jumping the gun in Sydney on Wednesday.
Supermaxi Lahana were in third place, about 50 nautical miles behind Ragamuffin.
Wild Oats had been surfing at more than 24 knots down the east coast of Tasmania on Thursday and at one stage were more than 30 nautical miles ahead of her 2005 record pace before a westerly change.