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Wild Oats after third straight win

SYDNEY, Australia — Wild Oats X1 will attempt to do what no other yacht has done since 1948 — win the Sydney to Hobart race three years in a row.

About 80 yachts from around Australia and overseas set sail Tuesday from Sydney harbor on a 723-mile trip down the southeast coast of Australia and across Bass Strait to the island state of Tasmania.

Wild Oats took off more than an hour off the previous record to win the race in 1 day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds for the first time in 2005. Nokia set the previous mark in 1999 of 1 day, 19:48:02.

Last year, Wild Oats wasn’t quite as quick because of unfavorable conditions, finishing in 2 days, 8:52:22. That made the super maxi just the sixth boat to record consecutive victories in the annual bluewater classic, and the first since Astor in 1963-64.

This year, Wild Oats will try to duplicate the record of Moran, which won in 1946-48.

With the withdrawal of New Zealand boat Maximus with a damaged keel, Wild Oats became the favorite to reach Constitution Dock first in the Tasmanian state capital of Hobart.

New British maxi City Index Leopard could be a challenger, especially in strong headwinds, while Victorian state super maxi Skandia, the 2003 line honors winner, should also be near the head of the fleet.

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