Wild Oats XI is headed for line honours in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race as wild weather forced the withdrawal of 10 yachts on Monday.
Crews reported winds of up to 50 knots along the New South Wales south coast and in Bass Strait.
The most serious incident involved Victorian yacht Bacardi, which had a broken mast. It was due to arrive in Ulladulla late on Monday night.
The ABC reports that Wild Oats, a four-times winner, was halfway across Bass Strait, leading Investec LOYAL by around 20 nautical miles. NSW yacht Lahana was a further six miles back.
Navigator Adrienne Cahalan said the seas were "violent and awful".
YuuZoo, a 90-foot maxi, which won line honours as Nicorette in 2004, withdrew on Monday, after two crew members spent 10 minutes in the sea on Sunday night. "Fortunately, everybody did what they were supposed to and we got back," said skipper Ludde Ingvall.
The yacht finally retired at 3.25pm (AEDT) on Monday because of damage to her headsail as she entered Bass Strait.
Sixteen craft have now pulled out, leaving 71 boats in the race.