LDV Comanche on course for Sydney to Hobart race record

HOBART, Australia (AP) Super maxi LDV Comanche held a big lead and was well inside a record pace in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race Wednesday.

The line honors favorite established a buffer of more than 11 nautical miles over rival super maxi Wild Oats XI just over 22 hours into the race.

LDV Comanche was about 450 nautical miles into the 630 nautical miles to Hobart on the island state of Tasmania.

LDV Comanche was averaging around 20 knots and on schedule to finish inside Perpetual Loyal’s 2016 race record time of 1 day, 13 hours, 31 minutes, 20 seconds.

The first four boats were all on record pace, although those projections and the chance of a record could be dashed if they encounter light winds once they cross Bass Strait.

The big loser overnight was InfoTrack, the former Perpetual Loyal, which slipped from third to fifth after sustaining a damaged sail. The yacht was overtaken by Black Jack, the first boat out of Sydney Heads on Tuesday, and the 24-meter (80-foot) Hong Kong boat, Beau Geste, the only non-super maxi in the top five.

”We spent a fair bit of time trying to get a damaged sail down and that hurt us,” InfoTrack boat captain Ty Oxley said. ”That’s out of the race, so now we’re using a secondary sail.”

The fleet of 102, including 27 international yachts, has had only one retirement – the German TP52 Rockall, pulling out with a broken rudder.

LDV Comanche and Wild Oats XI nearly collided after a tack from the eight-time line honors winner Wild Oats 15 minutes into the race. That brought it to within a few meters of LDV Comanche, which raised a protest flag.

Wild Oats XI could receive a time penalty after the race concludes, although Comanche could withdraw the protest if it wins.

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