27 Dec 2010

Wild Oats leads yacht race in gale-force winds

6:00 pm on 27 December 2010

Line-honours leader Wild Oats XI is battling gale-force winds as she makes her way through Bass Strait near the halfway point of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race.

The four-time winner and line-honours favourite leads Investec LOYAL and 2003 winner Wild Thing by about 21 nautical miles.

The crew of Wild Oats report three-metre swells and winds above 35 knots.

Skipper Bob Oatley says the 100-foot supermaxi is coping well, despite losing radio communications when she speared through a large wave earlier on Monday.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology is predicting squalls of up to 40 knots to continue into Monday evening, with seas of from three to four metres.

But conditions are expected to ease as the handicap contenders reach Bass Strait later on Monday night.

The Victorian 39-footer Jazz Player so far remains the only one of the 87 competitors to pull out of the race - because of mainsail damage.