Wild Oats XI remained on course to defend its line honors title in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race after some drama in high seas resulted in one vessel sinking and eight others quitting.
Eight crew members had to abandon 1968 Sydney-Hobart race winner Koomooloo on Wednesday when it slipped off the back of a big wave and started sinking.
Three sailors on Maximus were seriously injured and had to be airlifted to hospital by helicopter after their maxiyacht was dismasted in heavy conditions and strong winds overnight.
Wild Oats XI avoided the carnage and had a lead of 22 nautical miles late Wednesday over Skandia, another maxi that was slowed after losing its front rudder.
Ichi Ban was a further 11 nautical miles back in third place.
Maximus and rival maxi ABN Amro, the Volvo Ocean Race winner, both retired after losing their masts in strong wins.
While conditions were expected to ease, Wild Oats XI navigator Adrienne Cahalan predicted difficult sailing across Bass Strait.
"It's very rough seas and winds up to 25 to 30 knots at times," Cahalan said.
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore Geoff Lavis said despite the difficulties Wednesday, the situation was nothing like in 1998 when six people were killed and seven boats sunk when a violent storm hit the race.
Last year, Wild Oats XI, owned by Sydney businessman Bob Oatley, became the first boat in the race's history to complete the triple of line and handicap honors and a race record.
It wiped more than an hour off the previous time to win the 628-nautical mile (723-mile; 1,163-kilometer) race last year in one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds.