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Wild Oats wins 3rd Sydney to Hobart race in a row

Wild Oats wins 3rd Sydney to Hobart race in a row

Sydney yacht Wild Oats XI has become the first yacht in nearly 60 years to win the Sydney to Hobart race three times in a row.
Wild Oats, skippered by Mark Richards, finished the 628-nautical mile (1,163-kilometer, 723-mile) race Friday in 1 day, 21 hours, 24 minutes, crossing the line at Constitution Dock in Hobart at 10:24 a.m. (2324 GMT).
The finish was closer than expected, with second-place British yacht City Index expected to finish about 30 minutes behind after trailing during the race by up to 20 nautical miles.
The race began Wednesday in Sydney Harbor, when Wild Oats led the fleet into the Tasman Sea and never trailed down the New South Wales state coast and across Bass Strait to the island state of Tasmania.
Australian yacht Ichi Ban was expected to finish third and 2003 line honors winner Skandia, which broke its mast overnight Thursday night, fourth.
American yacht Rosebud, owned and skippered by Roger Sturgeon, was expected to finish fifth later Friday.
"Things are going great," Wild Oats navigator Ian Burns had said in an e-mail to race organizers Thursday when the yacht had covered about two-thirds of the distance to Hobart.
"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 matched the feat of Morna, which won from 1946-1948 _ the last and only other 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, 18:40:10. Last year, the yacht finished in 2 days, 8:52:22, making 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 had 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.