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High-Tech Yacht Smashes Sydney to Hobart Race Record


A record has been set in one of the world's toughest yacht races - the Sydney to Hobart. The Australian boat "Wild Oats" completed the race in one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds - shaving more than an hour off the previous record, set in 1999. The race, down Australia's southeastern coast, is one of the toughest challenges in sailing.

The annual ocean race from Sydney to Hobart has been dominated this year by the yacht "Wild Oats."

The high-tech carbon-fiber craft survived a minor scare just a few nautical miles from the finishing line when part of the mainsail broke and it was forced to continue under reduced power.

In the end it made little difference, as "Wild Oats" cruised easily into the history books.

The winning skipper Mark Richards paid tribute to his crewmates. "Very fast sailing and some pretty critical maneuvers and we pulled them all off, which was amazing and, you know, it's a real credit to every member of this crew," he said. "They did a fantastic job."

The more than 1,100 kilometer (628 nautical miles) journey south from Sydney takes the yachts through the Tasman Sea and then across the treacherous Bass Strait. They then head into calmer waters on the Derwent River before reaching Hobart, the capital of the island state of Tasmania.

Eighty-five yachts started this arduous trip from Sydney harbor Monday. Smaller entrants could take days to complete the journey. For them, even finishing would be an achievement.

Race organizer Geoff Lavis says the sailors on board "Wild Oats" deserve to be record-breakers. "These guys did an excellent job bringing the boat that quickly down into Hobart. The conditions weren't ideal all the way," he said. "It was quite difficult on the Monday night but they've prevailed and they deserve to have this race record."

The Sydney to Hobart race, which began more than 60 years ago, has become an iconic part of Australia's sporting calendar.

Such is the punishing nature of this ocean classic that not every vessel makes it to Tasmania.

Disaster struck the fleet in 1998 when a wild storm struck. Half a dozen sailors were killed.

Survivors described being repeatedly hammered by waves up to 50 meters high.

The tragedy forced race organizers to introduce tough safety regulations.