Wild Oats XI has smashed the Sydney Hobart race record to claim line honours for the ninth time, after a dramatic finish.
The Oatley-family owned supermaxi crossed the finish line in Hobart at 9.48pm on Wednesday — about 16 minutes ahead of LDV Comanche — to slash almost five hours off the time set by Perpetual LOYAL last year.
Wild Oats XI overtook LDV Comanche on the River Derwent with about five nautical miles to go after the pair had earlier flown neck-and-neck down Tasmania’s east coast.
It’s the first win for Wild Oats XI since the passing of former owner and businessman Bob Oatley last year.
Wild Oats XI, helmed by Mark Richards, crossed the line in a time of one day, eight hours, 48 minutes and 50 seconds.
The previous race record was one day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds.
Fuelled by a strong north-easterly, WIld Oats XI chipped away at LDV Comanche’s overnight 20 nautical mile advantage to be within a few hundred metres heading into the River Derwent.
There, it picked up a breeze to crawl into first place as her rival slowed to a near halt.
Wild Oats XI, however, faces a potential time penalty with LDV Comanche earlier indicating plans to lodge a formal protest after the pair came perilously close to colliding about 15 minutes into the race on Boxing Day.
LDV Comanche raised a protest flag shortly afterwards and has six hours after finishing to lodge the paperwork with the international jury.
Wild Oats XI retired from the past two Sydney to Hobart races due to mechanical issues but has now set the race record for the third time.