The United States former America's Cup contender, American Eagle, led a record 79 boat fleet down Australia's Eastern coast in the annual 640-mile Sydney to Hobart ocean yacht race.
GV Start of race with small motor craft following
LV Ragamuffin (70) leading Graybeard (9999)
AERIAL Yachts with spinnakers out
CLOSER AIR VIEW 253 racing
AERIAL VIEWS Yachts racing (4 shots)
Initials ESP/0013 ESP/0028
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Background: The United States former America's Cup contender, American Eagle, led a record 79 boat fleet down Australia's Eastern coast in the annual 640-mile Sydney to Hobart ocean yacht race.
It was estimated the 68-foot vessel would have to average better than 8 1/2 knots to beat the race record of three days, three hours, 46 minutes 16 seconds, set by Ondine in 1962.
The yachts were sailing through 30 knots north-westerly winds with stronger gusts before being issued a weather warning off the Tasmanian coast.
The 72-foot Canadian fiberglass ketch, Graybeard, was reported lying astern of American Eagle in second place. Behind these two frontrunners for line honours were the sloops Apollo and Ragamuffin.
The first Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race was held in 1945. It was initiated by a 45-year-old English Naval Architect and designer, Captain John Holden Illingworth. On arrival in Sydney, he bought a sloop and then challenged the tough Australian crews and their vessels and won.
SYNOPSIS: The Annual 640-mile Sydney to Hobart Ocean Yachting Classic started on Sydney Harbour on Tuesday. A record 79 yachts manoeuvred through an armada of spectator craft to gain good positions to sail through Sydney harbour entrance to the open Pacific Ocean. The Australian sloop Ragamuffin and the Canadian ketch Graybeard gained an early lead over the large fleet. But it was the former United States America's Cup contender, American Eagle, that took over the lead and gradually increased it by more than 17 miles.
The yachts wee sailing in 30-knot, north-westerly winds. It was estimated that these conditions would aid American Eagle in its bid to break the race record, three days, thee hours, 46 minutes and 16 seconds, set by Ondine in 1962. This is the 28th Sydney to Hobart Yachting Classic. The first was sailed in 1945 when English Naval Architect and designer Captain John Illingworth challenged the tough Australian crews and won.