27 Dec 2011

Wild Oats hold lead in Sydney to Hobart

1:02 pm on 27 December 2011

Defending champions Wild Oats XI overcame a rough night at sea to consolidate her lead at the front of the Sydney to Hobart fleet on Tuesday morning.

The fleet had to contend with ugly seas whipped up by southerlies of up to 30 knots and swell generated by ex-tropical cyclone Fina.

Despite the tough conditions, only one off the fleet of 88 starters retired on the first night.

The 46-foot based Sydney boat Celestial was heading back home after suffering a broken gooseneck, which holds the boom to the mast on the mainsail.

Wild Oats XI, bidding to win her sixth line honours title in seven years, was leading rival supermaxi Investec LOYAL by seven nautical miles early on Tuesday after taking the lead out of Sydney harbour.

The early part of the race featured more talking points than usual due to the boat's skipper Mark Richards after a winch failure stymied her progress.

Richards' response was efficient and they leapt ahead of Loyal before the boats went through Sydney Heads and stayed there.

However, while doing so he swore like a sailor, and it was all telecast in viewers' homes courtesy of the Seven network, which also sponsors the boat.

A Wild Oats XI spokesperson says Richards either hadn't been told by Seven he was live to air, when he dropped the f-bomb, or wouldn't have heard a message because of noise on the boat.