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Black Jack leads battered Hobart fleet

Supermaxi Black Jack was heading a much reduced Sydney Hobart fleet on Monday morning, after the double whammy of strong winds and high seas forced almost a quarter of the boats to retire.

By 6am (AEDT), 21 of the original 88 starters were no longer racing and the other 67 were hoping for less taxing conditions, after being battered by heavy southerlies through the latter part of Sunday.

By the time Boxing Day on the Australian east coast had finished 18 boats were out of the race and three more joined the list in the early hours of Monday morning,

Sydney boats Oz Design Patrice Six and Philosopher withdrew due to engine issues and internal damage respectively.

Queensland 39-foot yacht Huntress also advised organisers she had retired, but it was not immediately clear why she had pulled out.

While the three supermaxis remained in the race, the big list of casualties on Sunday included the TP52 Gweilo, which was considered one of the main contenders to win overall honours.

Out the front of the fleet, Monaco’s Black Jack continued to lead in the battle for line honours.

She was ahead of rival supermaxis LawConnect and SHK Scallywag 100,

The size of her lead was hard to confirm as LawConnect had issues with reporting the boat’s exact position.

Victoria’s 80-foot Stefan Racing, skippered by race stalwart and co-owner Grant Wharington, was also up among the fleet leaders.

Other boats in the top ten included Tasmania’s 2018 overall winner and 66-foot boat Alive, the 62-foot Whisper and TP52s Celestial and Quest.

The 64-foot Sydney based boat Khaleesi was leading the overall standing from the 34-foot White Bay 6 Azzurro, which before the race was considered one of the small boats most likely to challenge for the main handicap prize.

In the new Two-Handed division, Tasmania’s Sidewinder was leading that contingent of 15 from Victoria’s Maverick.

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