SYDNEY TO HOBART: Comanche Starts In Record Time But The Weather Forecast Will Favour Wild Oats To The Finish Line

Comanche. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Jim Clark’s Comanche has maintained her lead over Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats overnight in the 70th Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race, as strong southerly winds divide the pack leaving the two supermaxis out in front to fight it out.

Having just passed Eden on the New South Wales south coast this morning, the American supermaxi is now leading by just one nautical mile (1.85 kilometres).

At the start yesterday Comanche reached the turning mark at the Sydney Heads in just 4 minutes 35 seconds – the fastest time recorded for the opening stretch in the classic ocean Boxing Day race – followed by seven-times line honours winner Wild Oats 35 seconds later.

Despite the early lead, sea dogs say abating winds and softer conditions, predicted for today and tomorrow, will favour the lighter-bodied Wild Oats, setting up for a dramatic line finish.

So far, eight boats have withdrawn from the original 117 starters, with experienced yachties even finding last nights conditions testing.

Perpetual Loyal and former line honours winner Brindabella have both been forced to retire.

This morning Chris Links, a crew member of Wild Oats, told Channel 7 that many of the experienced sailors found it tough sailing in the weather conditions overnight but 10-year-old Wild Oats has held up and is in good shape. He said his team was creeping up on Comanche and is position for a boat-on-boat race to the finish line.

And it appears they weren’t the only crew to have struggled.

The supermaxis are expected to reach Hobart tomorrow lunchtime if the predicted weather conditions hold.

Here are some of the awesome photos hitting Twitter.

Now watch the 2014 Rolex Sydney to Hobart commence in style.