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Investec Loyal and Wild Oats XI battle for line honors in Sydney to Hobart classic

December 27, 2011 -- Updated 2317 GMT (0717 HKT)
Investec Loyal is pushing Wild Oats hard in the battle for Rolex Sydney-Hobart line honors.
Investec Loyal is pushing Wild Oats hard in the battle for Rolex Sydney-Hobart line honors.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Investec Loyal and Wild Oats XI battle for Sydney Hobart line honors
  • Wild Oats bidding for sixth win in annual classic
  • Light winds handicapping fleet in 628-nautical mile race

(CNN) -- Giant maxis Wild Oats XI and Investec Loyal were battling for line honors as the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race went into its second night Tuesday.

Light winds were handicapping the 81 boats still left in the 628-nautical mile classic as the fleet headed across the Bass Strait ahead of the finish in the Tasmanian capital.

Bob Oatley's Wild Oats XI is bidding for a sixth victory in the annual race but Anthony Bell's fellow 100-footer would not be shrugged off with both crews reporting visual sightings of each other.

Ian Burns, the co-navigator on Wild Oats XI said they were preparing for a testing night ahead.

"It is going to be really really tough because we have a patch of light wind to fight our way through to get to the Tasmanian coast," he told the official race website.

Official Rolex Sydney-Hobart website

"Knowing the guys on (Investec) Loyal as well as we do -- Stan Honey and Michael Coxon -- we know they will be throwing everything at us if it goes light, because when you are leading and the wind stops, the boat behind has a bunch of options to go around either side," added Burns.

A notable retirement from the 88 starters Monday was Grant Wharington's 98-footer, Wild Thing, which secured line honors in 2003, but has an otherwise checkered history in the prestigious race. Sail damage put paid to their chances.

There was disappointment too for 18-year-old Queenslander Chris Percy, the youngest skipper in the race, as his father's Beneteau 44.7 Alacrity retired with rigging damage.

"We were heading down the coast, off Eden, and we went to tack back and then there was a huge bang. We jumped into action and pulled the sails down," reported the teenager.

"Everyone's fine," he added.

Teenager Jessica takes on Sydney-Hobart

Wild Oats XI set the race record of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds in 2005 and that will stand for another year with the leaders not due in to finish until late Wednesday night local time.

The fleet start from Sydney Harbor on Boxing Day, cross the Bass Strait to the island of Tasmania, and sail up the Derwent River to Hobart's Constitution Dock.

The most notorious year was 1998 when six died as ferocious weather hit and sank five yachts.

As well as the battle for line honors, yachts in various categories race against each other and a prize is given for the winner on handicap.

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