Wild Oats XI has sensationally stolen the lead 30 miles from the finish in the 2018 Sydney to Hobart

(Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)Wild Oats XI leaving Sydney Heads for the 2018 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

Wild Oats XI has stolen the lead at the critical turn into the Derwent River to set the scene for a nail-biting climax in the 2018 Sydney to Hobart yacht race.

The Oatley family’s boat — which has claimed line honours eight times — snuck into the lead just before dawn as the supermaxis rounded Tasman Island and passed Port Arthur, the point at which they turn up towards Hobart for the final leg.

Black Jack, the smallest of the supermaxis, is 3.5 nautical miles behind Wild Oats XI while Comanche — which led the fleet for most of the race — is in third, 4.8nm behind the leader. This shows the positions on the official tracker shortly before 6am.

Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race Tracker

The finish with all four race contenders approaching Hobart together is practically unprecedented for the race and makes for a winner-takes-all tactical battle as the boats head up the Derwent.

Comanche struggles in lighter winds because of her enormously wide beam. The narrower Wild Oats XI and Black Jack tend to perform better in the conditions seen as they approach Hobart this morning.

While Wild Oats XI has built a commanding initial lead, it’s still possible she could strike a “wind hole”, allowing the following boats to catch up. On the other hand, the following boats must take greater risks to try and recover lost ground.

They are expected to cross the finish line around 7.30am AEDT this morning.

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