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Loyal beats Wild Oats in tight finish to win Sydney to Hobart race


A tussle which started on Boxing Day and lasted all the way to the finish line up the River Derwent in Tasmania saw first across the line honours going to Anthony Bell’s Loyal by just three minutes and eight seconds over Bob Oatley’s Wild Oats in the Sydney to Hobart race.

Both, finishing in under 54 and a half hours, were well outside the record of just over 42 hours set in 2005 by the 100-foot Wild Oats, which has been first over the line in five of the last seven races.

Britain’s Alex Thomson, jetting across the world after racing two-handed in the Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Costa Rica and back across the Atlantic singlehanded almost to Brest was chasing Peter Millard’s Laharna to improve on being 4th over the line, but being chased by Stephen Ainsworth’s Loki at the end of the 47th 625-mile classic. 

In Napier, on New Zealand’s north island, the 210 sailors from 48 countries are preparing for the Optimist World Championships, which, after a two-day Harken Invitational warm-up, holds its opening ceremony on New Year’s Eve and the first of 15 races on New Year’s Day.

With an age limit of 16 on 1 January, most of the teams have five members in a class that is the breeding ground for future world champions and Olympic medallists.

The British team, led by Jennifer Williams and coached by Alan Williams, is Joseph Burns, James Calder, Milo Gill-Taylor, Sarah Norbury and Matthew Whitfield.