Wild Oats approaches the finish line in the Derwent - 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart
The 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart has finished with the six times race winner, Wild Oats XI, notching her seventh and record equalling line honours win.
She was followed just over three hours later by Anthony Bell's Perpetual Loyal, formerly known as Speedboat and Rambler 100.
Update 0930hrs On Day 4, just after 0800hrs local time race organisers reported that Rush crewman Ben Renshaw had suffered a broken leg and the yacht was headed for Coles Bay, where an ambulance was waiting. She reported that she was expecting to resume racing.
Race veteran, and a former line honours winner, Brindabella, also appears to have experienced difficulty running back to the shelter of Tasman Island. No announcement has been made on her situation.
At 4.00am local time Wedgetail, a Reichel Pugh 55 was reported to have dismasted close to Tasman Island. Wind conditions in the area were believed to be extreme, with a gust of 50kts being recorded at the weather station on Tasman Island at 5.00am.
A second yacht Luna Sea, a Hickman 35 retired about the same time off Flinders with rudder damage.
All crew, on both boats were reported to be safe.
Two other yachts are also showing odd tracks with Zefiro retracing her course before rejoining the race.
Patrice made a sharp course alteration to head for the shelter of Tasman Island, and was later reported by race organisers to have retired with hull damage and is heading for Orford.
Another five yachts have previously retired from the original 94 boat fleet.
The tail-end boats are still exiting Bass Strait, and would appear to have a long an uncomfortable sail ahead of them. Top wind gust of 49kts being reported at Tasman Island just before 5.00am local time and the peak gust in the area was recorded at Mt Wellington, to the west of Hobart, earlier in the morning topping 69kts.
Strong Wind and Gale Warnings have been issued for the whole of the eastern Tasmanian coast extending from the race finish at Hobart, north into Bass Strait and covering the entire area in which the fleet are still racing.
Wedgetail dismasted and in the calm waters in the lee of Tasman Island
Day 4 0500hrs: Overnight, the third boat home was Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin 100, and she was chased home by four boats who were separated by just a mile with about 35nm left to sail. First of these was Karl Kwok's 80fter Beau Geste, with two Volvo 70's Giacomo and Black Jack, trailed marginally by supermaxi, Wild Thing. Ichi Ban, Mat Allen's new 60fter was, at that stage, 27nm behind the group in 8th place on the water.
Across the line, the Queensland entry Black Jack, the former Volvo 70, Telefonica, slipped through to finish fourth, followed 11 seconds later by Hong Kong entry Beau Geste, with the New Zealand Volvo 70, Giacomo (formerly Groupama) just 66secs astern. The supermaxi Wild Thing (AUS) finished just over 15minutes later, followed by the new 60fter Ichi Ban (AUS).
First of what are expected to be the major handicap contenders, Victoire (Daryl Hodgkinson) at 0545hrs local time was 25nm from the finish. The Cookson 50 has a lot of bigger boats astern - including boats almost double Victoire's length - underlining her exceptional performance. Once around Tasman Island, the yachts have to make a couple of tacks to clear Port Arthur, before reaching across Storm Bay to the finish in winds that are gusting to around 45kts, from a WSW direction with seas of and estimated 3.5 metres at Tasman Island.
Perpetual Loyal after finishing the 69th Rolex Sydney Hobart. Image: Perpetual Loyal
Day 3 1930hrs: Just after 7.00pm, local time, the Bob Oatley owned, Mark Richards skippered, Wild Oats XI crossed the finish line off Hobart to take her seventh win in the blue-water classic. Her official time was 2 days 6hrs 7min 27secs.
'The record is a big deal for us. This now the most famous yacht in Australian history, I would say. To have achieved a record like that in the event's 70 year history is pretty amazing, and we are very, very proud to have done it.
'The team did an amazing job,' he said. Adding that 'if it wasn't for Bob, here, none of us would be out there.'
Wild Oats soon after finishing the 69th Rolex Sydney Hobart Race Image: RSHYR
'It was a great team effort, we sailed a great second half of the race, and here we are.'
'It was a very draining race, but we are here, and very very happy. '
'Conditions were very testing. we got a bit of everything - all except for the southerly which we just missed. It had a bit of everything - that was the great thing about it.
Owner Bob Oatley said he was never concerned when Wild Oats XI lost her lead to Perpetual Loyal, earlier in the race. 'I had great confidence in them. She's a marvellous boat.'
Blunt-speaking Oatley (83) said he was not surprised to have won by such a large margin in what had been a closely fought race. Alluding to their seven race wins, Oatley acknowledged the efforts of the other boat to have achieved the feat, Morma (later renamed to Kurrewa IV) which won seven races between 1946 and 1960.
'We've done it in a shorter time than they have , and we will go on to do more now, I hope.'
'We've got a great future,' he added. 'More wins, of course. She's beautifully build and is a wonderful boat.'
Day 3 1840hrs: Earlier at 1840hrs local time, Wild Oats was about 8nm from the finish, in Hobart and was sailing at a speed of 11.5kts. Perpetual Loyal was about to round Tasman Island and head for Hobart. The wind in Hobart was reported as being 23kts gusting 28kts from a NW direction as the wind clocked ahead of the expected Westerly change.
She had a triple reefed main and #3 jib, with the fat-head main being reefed down to the same height as the top of the jib
At Tasman Island Perpetual Loyal was enjoying a 33kt gusting 38kt Northerly wind and was sailing at over 25kts.
Wild Oats XI heading up the last few miles to the finish - Image RSHYR Media
Day 3 1700hrs: Earlier, the Mark Richards skippered supermaxi has rounded Tasman Island, the most eastern point of Tasmania, and entered Storm Bay , about 5.00pm local time.
At that point she had 33nm left to sail, and was projected to finish about 90 minutes later - even though she was only sailing at 15kts.
Behind her Perpetual Loyal, Anthony Bell, was sailing at almost 30kts, but had 80nm to sail to the finish. Syd Fischer's Ragamuffan 100 was a further 10nm back.
The supermaxis yet to reach Tasman Island were still sailing in a strong northerly wind. However the breeze was expected to change around 8.00pm, at which point the wind would drop before cracking in from a NW direction at around 20-25kts - giving them a beat to the finish. Wild Oats XI is expected to go hard on the wind for the last few miles of the race only.
The race for prizes on ratings is expected to get very interesting, given Wild Oats XI's finish ahead of the weather front, and that the current leaders for handicap honours, on IRC, have around 250nm left to sail in adverse conditions.