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NZ's Giacomo makes moves, Wild Oats XI out

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/12/2016

New Zealand's Giacomo has moved up the field in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race as leader Wild Oats XI is forced to retire in what is shaping up to be a record-breaking race.

The Volvo 70 owned by New Zealand wine industry leader Jim Delegat is currently second in the race for line honours and sits first in the handicap standings.

Giacomo made a big move up the field overnight by sailing close to the coast.

Eight-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI pulled out on Tuesday south of Gabo Island, off the east coast of Victoria, leaving fellow supermaxi Perpetual LOYAL at the front of the fleet, ahead of race-record pace.

It's the second straight year that Wild Oats XI has been forced out mid-race, this time due to hydraulic ram issues.

Giacomo last contested the race in 2014, when she was dismasted off the Tasmanian coast, and was sixth over the line in 2013.

On board are Delegat's two sons Nikolas and James.

New Zealand yacht Beau Geste is also currently fifth in the race for line honours.

The Wild Oats XI crew was keen to reclaim line honours this year as a tribute to former owner Bob Oatley, who died a couple of weeks after last year's race.

Their misfortune opens the door for rival Perpetual LOYAL to claim the line honours in favourable conditions, which earlier had Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore John Markos predicting the mark would be smashed by about two hours.

Skippered by Anthony Bell, Perpetual LOYAL has her own share of bad luck in recent Sydney to Hobarts, forced to retire from the last two races.

Bell has recruited around half of the Commanche crew who took line honours last year and drastically slashed his usual quote of celebrities on board.

The leading boat must reach the finish line before 7.23am (local time) on Wednesday to beat the race record of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds set by Wild Oats in 2012.

'We're very confident the race record is going to get broken,'" Commodore Markos said.

"This is the first time I've been confident in the last 10 years."

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