Watch: Near miss and premature retirement in sensational start of Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race got off to a dramatic start with a near miss, shouting, cursing and shouts of protest.

In spectacular and crazy scenes, two race favorites were forced into penalty corners in a wild opening of the 77th race.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Protests, twists and drama galore at the Rolex Sydney Hobart launch

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The overwhelming race favorites were the big four supermaxis – LawConnect, Black Jack, Andoo Comanche and Wild Oats – and they all vied for the early lead as the boats headed for Sydney Harbour.

But Andoo Comanche was involved in a very close confrontation with Wild Oats and both Supermaxis made penalty loops amid shouts of “Protest”.

Andoo Comanche made a penalty loop after hitting a turning mark while Wild Oats decided to take a penalty turn after much confusion and debate.

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race begins

The Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race begins

“Reel, reel, we’re going to do a 720 (penalty turn),” shouted Mark Richards, skipper of the Wild Oats.

“I really think we’re in trouble.”

There was also an early retirement throughout the chaos after Avalanche damaged his bowsprit and made the call to pull the pin.

Wild Oats XI has returned to racing this year, looking for a ridiculous honorary title in the tenth row.

Earlier, Andoo Comanche skipper John Winning Jr explained what to expect and what to avoid based on his previous experience.

Finishing the trip from Sydney to Hobart is a challenge, but surviving the post-race celebrations with sailors drunk, sweaty and unwashed can be another ordeal, according to Willing Jr.

He didn’t hold back as he addressed the media a few hours before the start about what awaited those intrepid enough to venture into Hobart’s Customs House, the traditional post-race meeting place.

Wild Oats XI at the start of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. Credit: Brett Hemings/Getty Images

“Blackjack’s Will McCarthy has already announced that he’s in charge,” said Winning.

“The last time I was at Customs House, I think he put me in a headlock and took me back to the bar and said, ‘You’re not going anywhere, jackass.’

“He’s a Customs House veteran and says we must follow his example and I’ll do my best to avoid him.

“It’s celebrating, just being in a good mood and having fun and hugging loved ones and seeing family and hopefully getting some sleep and praying for a shower.

“It stinks when you’re down in the customs house, when you’re in there with all the sailors getting right off the boat.

“If you ever go down to the Customs House, put on some sort of nose-plug when you’re there.

“There are many sweaty seafarers who have been at sea for days without deodorant and without a shower, and it is only getting worse

“We grow from here to there with the smell, so it’s not that important to us. But I remember one day when I was on Loyal I went out and took a shower and came back with clean clothes and ‘Phuh, what’s that?’ It was like going to a pig farm.”

Winning said his boat’s 2017 race record of nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds in one day was less likely to be broken.

“Conditions are just a little bit lighter than yesterday and we’ll be early on the transition down which will hurt us a bit, we might not see as much wind all the way down as we thought,” said Winning.

Shane Warne’s brother Jason on their first Christmas without the big cricket and MCG tribute plans

Shane Warne’s brother Jason on their first Christmas without the big cricket and MCG tribute plans Watch: Near miss and premature retirement in sensational start of Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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