Sydney to Hobart 2018: Wild Oats XI wins line honours

A year after being sensationally stripped of victory, Wild Oats XI has returned to claim line honours in the Sydney to Hobart for the ninth time.

The Mark Richards-skippered yacht crossed the line in Hobart shortly after 8am on Friday, outpacing three other supermaxis across a tense home stretch. 

Wild Oats XI only pulled ahead of arch-rival and defending line honours winner Comanche before dawn but managed to hold on down the River Derwent. 

"It's a day of redemption for us that's for sure. We're so happy with the result," Richards said. 

Wild Oats XI was first past the post last year but was stripped of line honours after a rule breach, with a subsequent time penalty handing victory to Comanche. 

Crew, family and friends of race-winner Wild Oats celebrate during the 74th annual Sydney to Hobart.

Crew, family and friends of race-winner Wild Oats celebrate during the 74th annual Sydney to Hobart.

Wild Oats XI finished this year in a time of one day, 19 hours, seven minutes and 21 seconds, well short of the 2017 record set by Comanche. 

Outsider Black Jack was just 28 minutes behind, followed narrowly by Comanche and Infotrack.

All four supermaxis were in the River Derwent at the same time in one of the closest races in the event's history.

"It was an amazing contest all the way until the end and I take my hat off to all of the maxi boats," Richards said. 

The quartet was at times separated by just a few nautical miles down Tasmania's east coast on Thursday before Wild Oats XI made an overnight gamble to sail a wider route. It paid off.

"We got a little break at Tasman light," Richards said. 

"We basically sailed around the opposition and got ourselves into a position where the breeze filled in from the southwest - this morning we were in the right spot.

"That was a game-winning manoeuvre right there." 

Richards and his crew were greeted by hundreds of fans at Hobart's Constitution Dock at the conclusion of the race's 74th edition. 

Meanwhile, Tasmanian-owned yacht Alive is leading the race for handicap honours.

This year's fleet has been reduced to 80 yachts, with Calypso retiring due to steering issues late on Thursday night.

Australian Associated Press