Sydney to Hobart yacht race tense start as super maxis come inches from collision

The start from Sydney to Hobart was tense, with yachts close at hand and spirited skippers shouting obscenities across the harbour.

The 109-boat fleet took off for the 628-nautical-mile journey at 1 p.m. as the traditional starting gun was fired by former winner Norm Hyett – and it wasn’t long before drama began to unfold in winds of 15 knots.

The four super maxis – Wild Oats, Andoo Comanche, LawConnect and Black Jack – saw plenty of close calls in a wild start to the famous race’s 77th edition, leaving commentators stunned.

Andoo Comanche, in particular, was in the thick of the action as expert Channel 7 commentator Jimmy Spittle warned that “it’s going to be a real washing machine in Sydney Harbour”.

Along with LawConnect, the $50million 100ft super maxi was involved in numerous close calls in the first 10 minutes where it emerged that just one more coat of paint would have meant the 60ton yachts would have entered colliding.

This led to some very audible profanity on the Channel 7 broadcast, although to be honest some of it was quite creative.

“It’s a clusterf**k, you’re asking for a collision”, a member of the Comanche team could be heard shouting across the harbor, while another shouted “watch out for that fucking idiot” as they were trying to tack across the field.

Andoo Comanche (right) had a number of close calls to start the run, and is pictured with Moneypenny as the pre-face favorite tries to get out of the lead.

The wind was strong as Black Jack (left) and Wild Oats (right) sailed out of port

The wind was strong as Black Jack (left) and Wild Oats (right) sailed out of port

It would seem that the old adage of swearing like sailors is, in fact, the reality.

The pre-race favorite – who is currently in the lead according to the live tracker – was then penalized for reaching one of the marks, so the crew had to circle the mark twice.

The action didn’t stop there, with skipper John Winning Jr raising the red flag of protest as they headed towards the heads.

In jaw-dropping scenes, LawConnect moved dangerously close to the fleet of onlookers, prompting a crew member to shout “Where are we going?”.

It was left to veteran skipper Mark Richards and iconic boat Wild Oats to earn MVP status for their exceptional navigation and tactics in the harbour; but, you guessed it, the success was not without drama.

The iconic boat Wild Oats was the first to come out of the heads after masterful sailing before falling behind once the super maxis hit the coast

The iconic boat Wild Oats was the first to come out of the heads after masterful sailing before falling behind once the super maxis hit the coast

Wild Oats skipper Mark Richards could be heard yelling at one of his team members from

Wild Oats skipper Mark Richards could be heard yelling at one of his crew to ‘just use the f***ing jib’

Despite not receiving an official penalty, Richards, who could be heard saying “I honestly think we’re in trouble”, decided to take a penalty turn preemptively to avoid any potential ramifications later. in the race.

It was stressful times on board as Richards swore at one of his crew to ‘shut up and just use the goddamn jib’ as they attempted to turn.

This led to many fans taking to social media to express their delight at the huge amount of unfiltered and decidedly Australian language.

‘Enjoying the extremely Australian language of #SydneytoHobart yachts to live stream it,’ one wrote.

A tangle of five boats looks to start the race on the right note as the starting gun fires

A tangle of five boats looks to start the race on the right note as the starting gun fires

LawConnect's sail features a nod to the crisis in Ukraine, with the flag sitting clearly on the bottom of the mainsail

LawConnect’s sail features a nod to the crisis in Ukraine, with the flag sitting clearly on the bottom of the mainsail

Black Jack tries to sail fast through rough seas, powered by a 15 knot northwesterly wind

Black Jack tries to sail fast through rough seas, powered by a 15 knot northwesterly wind

“Comanche swearing made my day,” laughed another, while one amused fan noted that “Seven’s coverage of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race was dropped by a few f-bombs and we don’t we’re only three minutes away.”

Spithill, who won the America’s Cup in a storied career, said the carnage was an unmissable sight and praised the skippers for making pre-emptive penalty decisions.

“What action we’ve seen,” he said as the fleet passed him in the background.

‘Really surprised that the super maxis pushed him so hard. Two of the four super maxis chose to do penalties, (but) I think it was a very wise decision.

“Obviously, Andoo Comanche has had issues on a number of occasions,” Spithill said.

In one of the highlights of Sydney’s sporting calendar, fans once again flocked to the harbor in glorious sunshine to watch the fleet take off for Tasmania.

Venues around Sydney Harbor were packed as spectators jostled to watch and snap photos of one of the highlights of the city's sporting calendar

Venues around Sydney Harbor were packed as spectators jostled to watch and snap photos of one of the highlights of the city’s sporting calendar

Spectators also took boats to follow the yachts off the lead as fans watched in glorious sunshine

Spectators also took boats to follow the yachts off the lead as fans watched in glorious sunshine

There was barely a patch of vacant land to be found as people crowded onto the iconic South Head, with its original lighthouse

There was barely a patch of vacant land to be found as people crowded onto the iconic South Head, with its original lighthouse

There were also fans at North Head to watch the yachts leave the harbor heading for Hobart

There were also fans at North Head to watch the yachts leave the harbor heading for Hobart

Tens of thousands of fans littered the edge of the harbor and watched over the water in the first ‘normal’ race after three years of racing affected by Covid.

Since its inception in 1945, the race has become one of the pinnacle of the sport, with sailors and spectators flocking to Sydney and the finish line in Hobart to watch the arduous race.

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