Battle of supermaxis beckons at start of Sydney to Hobart race



Supermaxi Black Jack led a 85-strong fleet out of a hot and glittering Sydney Harbour Wednesday at the start of one of the toughest yacht races in the world.
Thousands of spectators lined the harbour and watched on boats as the yachts sped away under clear blue skies and aided by 10-15 knot north-easterly winds in the 74th edition of the 628-nautical-mile (1,162-kilometre) Sydney to Hobart race.
The winds are expected to pick up and push the fleet — which includes five supermaxis and 11 international entries — down the Australia’s east coast, before dropping off on Thursday in weaker conditions compared to last year.
The notoriously wild Bass Strait between Tasmania and the Australian mainland in particular is looking to serve up erratic conditions, with crews expecting a tactically challenging contest as they try to avoid windless holes.
This means 100-footer supermaxi Comanche’s race record of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds, set last year for the bluewater classic, should remain intact.
“The real issue is linking all the bits of wind up,” said strategist Iain Murray Wednesday of eight-time line honours winner supermaxi Wild Oats XI. His boat was first to Hobart in 2017 but was stripped of the win after being handed a one-hour penalty over a near-collision. “There will be light spots and spots where there is not much wind.—APP

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