Wild Oats XI crosses line 1st in Sydney to Hobart race


America's Cup victor Spithill was heard on television yelling "that's way too close" as Wild Oats completed a tack.

Australian super-maxi Wild Oats XI smashed the race record as they won their ninth Sydney to Hobart bluewater classic on Wednesday, but face the possibility of a protest from second-placed LDV Comanche for a near-collision just after the start.

But Wild Oats's crew will face a protest hearing in front of an worldwide race jury to determine if she will be crowned a champion or face a penalty after a near collision with LDV Comanche at the start of the race in Sydney Harbour.

Comanche's supermaxi rivals Wild Oats XI and Black Jack were keeping pace with the leader, with Hong Kong businessman Karl Kwok's 80-footer Beau Geste fourth ahead of InfoTrack.

"All of a sudden the dream came true - seeing the Derwent with no wind in it", said Richards.

The time slashes nearly five hours off the time set by Perpetual LOYAL a year ago, who crossed the line at 2:31am. "So I am not concerned about it at all".

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Comanche was sailing at a consistent speed of 20-25 knots and 48 miles ahead of the position of last year's record breaker Perpetual Loyal (renamed InfoTrack this year) at this time of the race.

Organizers said Wild Oats had the option of doing a 720-degree turn at the time of the initial protest if they accepted blame but chose not to and could face a minimum five-minute time penalty if the protest is upheld. That brought it to within a few meters of LDV Comanche, which raised a protest flag.

The four 100-footer supermaxis, led by LDV Comanche, were benefiting from a strong north-easterly wind in the Bass Strait early December 27.

Earlier LDV Comanche rounded Tasman Island in first place, with thoroughbred Wild Oats XI breathing down her neck just two miles astern - setting up a thrilling finish - as both 100 footers eyeballed each other over the final hours of sailing.

The crew celebrated, praising skipper Mark Richards.

Jazz Player, Wots Next and Rockall have been forced to retire, while Opt2go Scamp is repairing rotor damage at Eden and hopes to finish.