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Fierce competition ahead in Sydney-Hobart race

Dec 23, 2009 The day after Christmas will see the start of a competition billed as the "most difficult ocean race to win".  This year's Rolex Sydney Hobart race will feature some of today's premier racing vessels, all seeking to break the race record of 1:18:40:10, set by Wild Oats VI in 2005.  

From the ISAF's Sailing.org: 
Race record-holder Bob Oatley's Wild Oats XI, chasing her fifth consecutive line honours win, faces strongest competition from Neville Crichton's near sister Reichel/Pugh designed Alfa Romeo, and Mike Slade's Rolex Fastnet Race record holder ICAP Leopard, a Farr design from the UK.

The Greg Elliott-designed Investec Loyal (Sean Langman) and Etihad Stadium (Grant Wharington), the Don Jones design that formerly raced as Skandia Wild Thing, also have line honours ambitions, although Etihad Stadium's chances of making the start hang in the balance. On the delivery trip from Melbourne to Sydney last week, Etihad Stadium's mast broke and "never-say-die" Wharington is desperately trying to have a replacement - Alfa Romeo's, spare mast - air freighted from France in time for the race start.

All these maxis are canting-keel powered. Leopard, Wild Oats XI, Alfa Romeo and Loyal have been lengthened from 98ft overall to 100ft, to the new maximum length allowed for the Rolex Fastnet and Rolex Sydney Hobart Races.
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