American pair take advantage of leading contenders’ retirements following wild overnight storm to open up lead on Sunday, reports the Guardian.
One in four entrants in the Sydney to Hobart have now retired from the race including favourite Wild Oats XI as US yachts dominate in first and second place.
Sydney to Hobart front runners Comanche and Rambler are fighting hard towards the finish line with boat damage while more than a quarter of the race’s starting fleet has withdrawn.
Just over 27 hours into the race, the 100-foot super maxi Comanche, skippered by Ken Read and which was forced to make repairs to a damaged rudder after an overnight storm, led Rambler 88 by seven nautical miles.
A total of 29 yachts have retired battered and bruised by 40-plus knot winds which hammered the fleet off the New South Wales coast.
Strong winds knocked out some 20 percent of the field on Saturday and Sunday -- including defending champion and eight-time line honours winners Wild Oats XI -- whittling the 108-strong fleet that set sail from Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day down to 85.
The retirement of Wild Oats XI -- which holds the race record of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds set in 2012 -- left the race in the hands of US challengers Comanche and Rambler 88, with just two nautical miles separating the pair.