Closely challenged at the end but never caught, Wild Oats XI became 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).
"We came here to do a job and that was to claim the treble," said Richards. "We were challenged, we were chased and we were constantly looking over our shoulders but we are here now and it's time to celebrate.
"Back next year for a fourth? You never know, you'll have to talk to Bob."
Bob Oatley's 30-meter maxi was the pre-race favorite and dominated since the opening minutes of Australia's premier yacht race which began from Sydney Harbor on Wednesday.
The Sydney yacht led the fleet out of the harbor and in the opening 10 hours of the race surged down the New South Wales coast in almost perfect conditions. Light southwesterly winds in Bass Strait on Thursday ended any chance of the boat improving on its own race record set two years ago.
Wild Oats crossed the finish line ahead of the British maxi City Index Leopard, skippered by Mike Slade, who staged a dramatic comeback Friday morning.
At one stage the two front-runners were 21 nautical miles apart, but by the time the crew of Wild Oats heard the sound of cannon fire at the finish line, City Index Leopard was in the Derwent River and only four nautical miles away.
The British yacht finished second, 27 minutes behind Wild Oats.
"We pulled back I think 20 miles on them in the last six hours," Slade said. "It was our favorite breeze."
Australian yacht Ichi Ban finished third and American entry Rosebud, skippered by Roger Sturgeon, was fourth, both more than seven hours after the leading two yachts.
Skandia, which won line honors in 2003, had held second spot for much of the race but damaged its mast overnight Thursday night and faded to fifth. It was not expected to finish until early Saturday.
Wild Oats matched the feat of Morna, which won from 1946-1948 _ the last and only other yacht to win three in a row. Morna sealed its third win in 1948 with an elapsed time of 4 days, 5 hours and 1 minute.
In 2005, Wild Oats wiped more than an hour off the previous race record 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 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.