Stormy kick-off to Southern hemisphere's premier yacht race

The 67th Sydney Hobart Race made its traditional Boxing Day start facing a forecast of 40-knot winds.

All 88 boats signed up made it to the start line, despite a few boat crew members’ arrivals in Australia’s biggest city delayed by the severe weather. Some reported thunder, golf-ball sized hailstones and winds of up to 75mph – hardly typical of high summer down under.

But the race itself was never in doubt: first out of the harbour was the 30.5m (100ft) Wild Oats XI – the crew later telling of a ‘bumpy night’. One yacht, the 14m (46ft) Celestial, retired crippled by a broken gooseneck. The strong headwinds are predicted to prevent any records falling this year.

The race ends with the year at Hobart in Tasmania, and prizes will be given on New Year’s Day.

Photo: ROLEX Daniel Forster

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