With 100,000 people watching, over 100 boats set off, with the crews aiming at the 1975 record for the 630 miles of two days 14 hours 36 minutes and 56 seconds.
A brisk north-easterly lifted the yachts for the first 12 hours out through the Heads, with the wind forecast to switch into the west to give fast reaching conditions.
George Snow's new pounds 1m 75ft IMS maxi Brindabella is the favourite, and he showed why as his new boat led the fleet after a clean start.
Clwyd, skippered by John Hyslop of the Royal Tasmanian Yacht Club, became the first yacht ever to sink during the event. It went down about 19 hours after the start. All seven crew aboard were reportedly rescued.
The nine-team Southern Cross series will also be settled over this race, since it carries quadruple points. New South Wales A, comprising the IOR two-tonner Atara and her IMS partner MEM, lead with 283 points, followed by NSW B on 255.5.Reuse content