Alexa

Wild Oats heads for 3rd straight win

Wild Oats heads for 3rd straight win

Sydney yacht Wild Oats XI increased its lead over the fleet Thursday, edging towards a third straight win in the Sydney to Hobart race.
Just over 28 hours into the race, Wild Oats, skippered by Mark Richards, was 219 nautical miles (405 kilometers, 250 miles) from the finish line at Constitution Dock in Hobart on the island state of Tasmania, covering about two-thirds of the race distance.
Computer forecasts based on current conditions indicated the super maxi would finish the race shortly after midday Friday (0100 GMT).
British yacht City Index Leopard was in second place, 19 nautical miles behind, followed by 2003 line honors winner Skandia. Race projections showed Leopard finishing about three hours behind Wild Oats.
Ichi Ban was in fourth and American yacht Rosebud, owned and skippered by Roger Sturgeon, in fifth.
"Things are going great," Wild Oats navigator Ian Burns said in an e-mail to race organizers Thursday.
"Boat's going well, crew are changing the sails whenever required. Great running last night and now on the breeze with a few bumps _ wouldn't be Hobart without that."
Wild Oats is attempting to match the feat of Morna, which won from 1946-1948 _ the last yacht to win three in a row.
Wild Oats holds the race record from 2005 when it wiped more than an hour off the previous mark to win in 1 day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds. Nokia set the previous mark in 1999 of 1 day, 19:48:02.
Last year, Wild Oats finished the 628-nautical mile (1,163-kilometer, 723-mile) race in 2 days, 8:52:22. That made the super maxi just the sixth boat to record consecutive victories, and the first since Astor in 1963-64.
Three boats in the original 82-yacht fleet have retired, the most recent New South Wales entry Pretty Fly II. One of the yacht's crew members, Derek Brown, suffered a broken nose and cheekbone Thursday when he was hit in the face by a spinnaker pole.
The 2006 race was struck by bad weather _ eight sailors had to abandon a sinking vessel and three others were airlifted to hospital with injuries. In 1998, six sailors were killed and seven boats sunk when a violent storm hit the race.