Wild Oats XI has won line honours in the 74th Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
It is a thrilling redemption for the super maxi, which finished fastest last year, but was denied that title after a time penalty was applied for coming too close to rival yacht Comanche just outside the Sydney heads at the start of the race.
Wild Oats XI's skipper Mark Richards said this year's race was the most spectacular in the 74 years of the Sydney to Hobart.
"It's fantastic, words can't explain it right now," Richards said.
After last year's winner Comanche led for most of the race, Wild Oats XI executed a stunning tactical play just outside Tasman Island early on Friday morning.
It swung further to the east than its rivals, chasing faster winds.
"That was the game-winning manoeuver right there," Richards said.
"The guys did an awesome job. We were very unlucky throughout the race with a few wind shifts and we just had to tough it out.
"We got a little break at Tasman Island and just sailed away from the rest of the fleet."
Richards also praised the Oatley family, who own Wild Oats XI, for backing the crew and boat.
"Wild Oats XI, what an Australian icon. Fourteen years old and to do what she did today I think is just amazing," Richards said.
This is Wild Oats XIs ninth Sydney to Hobart line honours victory — a new record in the history of the race.
Wild Oats finished in 1 day, 19 hours, 7 minutes, 21 seconds, well behind last years record of 1 day, 9 hours and 15 minutes, set by Comanche when unusually strong winds propelled the fleet accross Bass Strait and down the east coast of Tasmania.
But that did not dampen the victor's spirits.
"Words fail me," Sandy Oatley told Channel Seven. "We've had a great competition out there. The boys rose to the occasion.
"(I was) very nervous … watching the lead change last night. They're going to have a bit of a celebration and then Ricko [Mark Richards] might be going in the water."
Those celebrations were raucous, with Richards drinking from a shoe, Daniel Ricciardo-style.
Black Jack, a light wind specialist, beat out last year's victor Comanche in a tight race for second place just minutes behind Wild Oats XI, with fellow super maxi InfoTrack finishing fourth.
It was a thrilling race for sailing fans, with the lead changing hands several times on the journey south as the super maxis battled to avoid windless patches in a slower, more tactical race than last year.
The race was hailed as the "closest ever" by Richards on Thursday, with all four Australian super maxis within just a few nautical miles of each other for most of the race.
It was a sad race for the only overseas super maxi, Sun Hung Kai Scallywag, which retired to Sydney only hours after the race began on Wednesday after damaging its bowsprit.
Further back in the pack, Tasmanian boat Alive, Wild Oats X with its all-female crew, and last year's winner Ichi Ban were leading the race for overall honours at 9am (AEDT).
Nick is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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