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    Sydney to Hobart 2015

    THE 71st Sydney to Hobart has claimed early victims following a spectacular start to the famed ocean classic.

    Just one hour after the flags were waved to signal the start of the race, three boats were forced to retire.

    The UK boat Lupa of London, contesting its first Sydney to Hobart, joined Chinese entry Ark 323 on the sidelines.

    For now, the reason behind the he retirements are unknown.

    Also out of the race is Cougar II, back at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia dock with damage to her starboard quarter.



    Maserati send a crewman over the side to check what has tangled their keel during the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race. Picture Craig GreenhillSource:News Corp Australia

    At the head of the pack it was the star-studded crew on the Perpetual Loyal supermaxi who stole the show, winning the race to the Sydney Heads.

    Skipper Anthony Bell and his team, which includes former Australian cricket captain Michael Clark, pulled off a major upset with their fast exit.

    But Loyal’s time in the sun was short-lived with the American supermaxi Comanche, with super model Kristy Hinze-Clark aboard, taking over and leading the fleet out into open sea.

    Earlier, more than 120 passengers were evacuated off the start boat at Taronga Zoo when it began to take on water, meaning the Sydney to Hobart fleet could not be sent on its way by its traditional cannon fire.

    According Rebecca Wilson, a columnist for The Telegraph who was on board, 160 people on the boat and a cannon used to start the race were transferred to another vessel.

    “We left the (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia at Rushcutters Bay) at 11.30am and two stewards came up soaking wet and said we’re taking on water,” Ms Wilson said.

    But the mishap failed to disrupt what was one of the most spectacular starts in recent years.

    While much of the attention has been focused on defending champion Wild Oats, the celebrity laden Loyal and her American rival Comanche, Ragamuffin sailing master David Witt has warned not to underestimate the 100-footer owned by 88-year-old Syd Fischer.

    Witt said while his rivals deserve favouritism, this year’s race is anything but a two-horse race.

    “Everyone has written us off, but they are in for a shock. We are going to surprise everyone,’’ Witt said.




    The race for the overall honours is more open than in recent years although weather expert Roger Badham believes it is veering towards the bigger yachts in the fleet.
    “Sixty foot and up look like ruling at this stage,’’ he said.

    But some of the smaller and older yachts in the fleet have not given up on their dream of winning the prestigious overall trophy.

    “I don’t know. The maxis could get away from us in the light winds, but every corner has a chance this year,’’ said defending overall champion and Wild Rose skipper Roger Hickman.

    Originally published as Major drama in the Sydney to Hobart

    Sydney to Hobart 2015 live updates

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    One of the best open ocean races in the world.

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    Sydney to Hobart 2015: American supermaxi Comanche limping towards famous victory



    UPDATE: COMANCHE skipper Ken Read has punched his fist in the air when spotted sailing across Storm Bay towards the finish line of the Sydney to Hobart on Monday night.
    The tough skipper and his gutsy crew are expected to claim their first line honours win sometime around 9pm.

    The 100-footer, with owner Kristy Hinze -Clark aboard, has staged one of the most remarkable comebacks in sport this year just to be racing to the finish line on the Derwent River in Hobart.
    Just nine hours after the start of the race, Comanche suffered potentially race-ending damage when their daggerboard and rudder snapped off.

    The damage - and the patch-up job so they could continue to race - was clear to see to those who tonight went out to greet the yacht as she raced across Storm Bay and to the Derwent River.

    Comanche had opened up a large lead over fellow US yacht Rambler late on Monday.
    Last year the yacht, just days after being launched, finished second to Wild Oats in her first ever Sydney to Hobart.

    It appears highly unlikely that Ragamuffin will be able to spoil the American show of strength this year.

    The frontrunner’s race to Hobart has been slowed by lightening conditions.
    But enjoying the change of pace were yachts further back in the field, including Clipper round the world skipper Pete Thornton on Great Britain.

    “There’s a lot more happy faces out here now,’’ he said. “I think my forehead has even got burned.’’
    Comanche skipper Ken Read as the boat sails through Storm Bay on Monday evening.
    Comanche skipper Ken Read as the boat sails through Storm Bay on Monday evening.Source:News Corp Australia
    Seasickness has been a major issue this race due to the rough conditions.


    Earlier today, Ragamuffin sailing master David Witt revealed the supermaxi had suffered almost identical damage to that of the fleet leaders after “hitting something” the first night of the race.

    All three yachts have broken their daggerboards, making it difficult to steer on one particular tack.
    “We just dropped of a wave in the fresh conditions, lost the board. It was gone,’’ said Witt whose team have made running repairs to keep on racing. “It’s over the side. We don’t own it.”


    To date 32 yachts have retired from the Sydney to Hobart, one the highest attrition rates in more than a decade.

    American skipper Ken Read says his multi-million dollar supermaxi Comanche is a “wounded bull’’ on a mission as she attempts to race off with the first international line honours win in the Sydney to Hobart since 2009.
    In an incident packed race south, Read revealed to The Daily Telegraph his fears the 100-footer would not be able to hold off her closest rivals Rambler, Ragamuffin and Maserati due to major issues with the steering.

    The 71st edition of the Sydney to Hobart has been filled with drama with defending champion Wild Oats damaged and out on the first night, a rising toll of damaged boats and widespread fatigue and seasickness across the fleet.
    Ragamuffin 100 surges through the waves in the 2015 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Picture: Brett Costello
    Ragamuffin 100 surges through the waves in the 2015 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

    Picture: Brett CostelloSource:News Corp Australia
    “I have more than half the crew down with sea sickness. It’s been hard going for them out here,” Clipper round the world skipper Pete Thornton said from Great Britain.
    Thornton said he and his crew had seen gusts of wind as strong as 60 knots as they raced towards the Derwent River finish line.
    Read is anything but confident about victory of the world record-breaker with owner and super model Kristy Hinze-Clark aboard.

    “If we finish this race we will be able to hold our head high,’’ Read said after his crew made running repairs to the steering so Comanche could rejoin the race after losing around 30 nautical miles to her rivals due to the late-night crash.
    Read said the boat was significantly handicapped when sailing on starboard tack and slipped sideways without one of her daggerboards.

    Wild Oats XI returns to dock after retiring from the Sydney to Hobart.
    Wild Oats XI returns to dock after retiring from the Sydney to Hobart.Source:AAP
    “I’ve been in some bizarre races but this one takes the cake by a long shot,’’ he said of the loss of Aussie favourites Wild Oats and Perpetual Loyal to damage, his own boats dramas and their remarkable comeback to be either in the lead or vying closely for it across Bass Strait on Sunday night. But Read said he was “bummed’’ Wild Oats and Perpetual Loyal were not still in the race.

    Instead fellow American George David and his new 88-footer look to be his major opposition.
    Incredibly Rambler also hit an unidentified object at sea and damaged its daggerboard — an appendage which keeps the boat sailing straight and prevents it slipping sideways.
    Rambler is gunning for fellow American, Comanche. Picture: Rolex

    Rambler is gunning for fellow American, Comanche. Picture: RolexSource:Supplied
    “We have no idea what we hit. We couldn’t see it,’’ said Australian navigator Andrew Cape.

    “It might have been marine life or flotsam but it was a solid hit. It shook the boat.’’
    Further back but still within striking distance of winning line honours is the world’s oldest ocean racing skipper Syd Fischer and his 100-footer Ragamuffin.
    While no longer in the race for the fastest time prize this year, Wild Oats skipper Mark Richards has vowed they will return in 2016 in their bid to win a ninth crown after sail damage ended their campaign this year.

    TIME LINE OF DESTRUCTION

    DEC. 26
    1.10pm: first collision. Ark 323 out.
    1.15pm approx.: Second crash. Cougar II and Lupa of London out.
    2.30pm: News M3 out.
    6pm: Dare Devil out with broken rudder.
    9pm approx.: big southerly buster slams frontrunners. Winds in excess of 40 knots reported.
    10pm: Wild Oats appears to be heading north instead of south on race tracker, Soon after it is confirmed she has ripped mainsail in half and has retired.
    10.10pm: News Comanche has retired.
    11.45 approx.: News Perpetual Loyal out with damaged rudder but Comanche back in the race
    Word that Cex Dolce has busted mast.
    12am: St Jude confirmed out with broken rudder.
    DEC. 27
    12.30am: Koa confirmed out with steering damage.
    3.40am: Report from Ragamuffin southerly still honking but sea state not too bad.
    4.25am: Pazazz out.
    4.40am: Pretty Fly III out
    5.05am: Takani out
    6.36am: Patrice, Brindabella out
    7.30am: Gyr Wot Eva out
    8am: Dekadence out
    8am: Samari Jack out
    9.30am: EPIRB accidentally activated. Search and rescue mission initiated.
    10.30am: Wild Oats arrives back in Sydney.
    10.35am: Confirmation distress signal activation was inadvertent.
    11am: Haspa of Hamburg and Black Jack, one of the overall contenders out with damage.
    12pm: American yacht Rambler said it hit an unidentified object and tore of it starboard daggerboard.
    1pm: Victoire out
    1.02pm: KLC Bengal 7 out
    1.15pm: Frantic out
    2.30pm: Perpetual Loyal arrives back in Sydney.
    4pm: Comanche confirms it has steering issues and no daggerboard on its port side but racing on.
    4.13pm: Triton out.

    Sydney to Hobart 2015: updates, videos, pictures

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