Sydney to Hobart 2013: Wild Oats leads fleet out of Sydney Heads

Wild Oats XI won the battle to be first out of the Heads in the 628 nautical mile Sydney to Hobart yacht race got under way in sunny weather at 1pm on Thursday.

The 94 yachts made up of varying sizes and designs - and from all around the world set off under blue skies and into a south easterly of eight to 10 knots

Because of the conditions, the fleet made a reaching start, and it was the Mark Richards skippered Wild Oats XI who led the race out of Sydney Harbour and south.

It didn't take long for controversy to arise. Soon after Perpetual Loyal hoisted a protest flag; and further back the Welbourn 50 entrant, Audi Sunshine Coast, became the first withdrawal, citing damaged rigging.

In another incident, the 80 footer Brindabella, owned by Jim Cooney, was penalised for breaking the start. She was forced to return and re-round the mark at the start.

At the first mark before exiting the Heads, Wild Oats XI led from the Botin 80 Beau Geste, followed by Perpetual Loyal. Anthony Bell and his new 100-footer had been on track to be first out the Heads, but appeared to misjudge where the first mark was.

The first three yachts and the other main big boats set off after the starting gun went on the north shore of the harbour, after putting up their reaching sails before the start.

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