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Sydney Hobart: 100ft yachts battle stormy seas in race to Tasmania

By Henry Young, CNN

Published 1428 GMT (2228 HKT) December 21, 2016
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The annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race pits crews from all over the world against each other in a notorious and challenging 628 nautical mile dash from Australia's east coast to the island of Tasmania. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Setting off from Sydney harbor on Monday 26 December, the yachts pass the famous Opera House before hitting the open ocean and eventually finishing in the Tasmanian capital of Hobart. PETER PARKS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Although the race is held in Australian summertime, the fleet will encounter high winds and stormy waters along the way. It is common for many starters to retire before the race is up. In 2015, only 71% of entries successfully navigated the Tasman sea. SAEED KHAN/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The rewards for the winner are rich. Close to 100 yachts are competing in this year's event in a bid to capture a Rolex timepiece and the coveted Tattersall's Cup. Joosep Martinson/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Australian supermaxi yacht Wild Oats XI has crossed the line first on a record eight occasions, dominating proceedings since her first entry in 2005. PETER PARKS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
The state-of-the-art vessel, skippered by Mark Richards, also holds the record for the fastest finish. Long considered the 'holy grail' of the race, Wild Oats XI managed to reach Hobart in under two days -- crossing the line in one day 18h 23m 12s four years ago. TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Under new ownership this year, Scallywag is expected to challenge the eight-time champion for the overall crown. Having contested her first Sydney-Hobart in 2014, finishing third -- and then second in 2015 -- the crew of Scallywag will hope hope to gone one better in this year's race. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Their task is made easier by the absence of last year's winner, Comanche. The 100 Supermaxi crossed the line in two days 8h 58m 30s but won't be back for a shot at the trophy this year. Instead, the Comanche crew have been busy setting a new transatlantic record, making the crossing in just five days, 14 hours and 21 minutes, averaging speeds of more than 21 knots. Brendon Thorne/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Early forecasts for this year's 72nd edition suggest strong breezes could propel the 90-strong fleet across the Bass Strait, around Tasman Island and up the Derwent River in record time. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images AsiaPac/Getty Images
Who will win the 72nd Sydney Hobart yacht race? Comment on our CNN Sport Facebook page and have your say today. PETER PARKS/AFP/AFP/Getty Images