Sailing: Strachan's success: Sydney to Hobart Race

A NERVE-RACKING 54 minutes and 11 seconds over four days since he started in Sydney, Andrew Strachan was able to relax for the first time yesterday and savour a satisfying win in a historic Sydney to Hobart Race, writes Stuart Alexander from Sydney.

His new 47ft IMS racer Ninety Seven is one of the smaller yachts to take line honours in the 49-year history of the 630-miler. But one even smaller, the 40ft Micropay Cuckoo's Nest, was set to take the race on handicap after finishing only two hours later.

The winners looked unflustered, in contrast to the demolition derby that was Eden, the bolt-hole on the south-east coast of New South Wales for many of the nearly 70 boats which gales and big seas battered into retirement.

Strachan praised his crew, who could count over 90 previous Sydney to Hobarts between them, and made light of the conditions, saying: 'It was a good event. We were well- prepared and we sailed it as we should, with a little caution when the wind came up.'

Making a comeback to ocean racing after a 10-year absence, Strachan said he was 'a little surprised' to take line honours but Nigel Holman, Micropay's owner, said as soon as he hit Constitution Dock: 'Have I won? This is what dreams are made of. I'm stunned.'

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