PICTURES

Sailing: Wild Oats XI wins Sydney to Hobart race for record-matching 7th time

Wild Oats Xl (right) and Beau Geste sails out of the Heads at the start of an annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race, on Dec 26, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM
Wild Oats Xl (right) and Beau Geste sails out of the Heads at the start of an annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race, on Dec 26, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM
Wild Oats XI passing the Iron Pot lighthouse at the entrance to the Derwent river, on Dec 28, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM
Wild Oats XI passing the Iron Pot lighthouse at the entrance to the Derwent river, on Dec 28, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM
Wild Oats XI sailing on the approach to the finish line, on Dec 28, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM
Wild Oats XI sailing on the approach to the finish line, on Dec 28, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM
Wild Oats XI sailing on the approach to the finish line, on Dec 28, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM
Wild Oats XI sailing on the approach to the finish line, on Dec 28, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM
Line honours Wild Oats XI's skipper Mark Richard arriving in Hobart on Dec 28, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM
Line honours Wild Oats XI's skipper Mark Richard arriving in Hobart on Dec 28, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM
Wild Oats XI winning the race on Dec 28, 2013. Wild Oats XI secured a record-equalling seventh victory in the Sydney to Hobart ocean classic when it sailed down the Derwent River well clear of its nearest rival on Saturday, Dec 28, 2013, evening. --
Wild Oats XI winning the race on Dec 28, 2013. Wild Oats XI secured a record-equalling seventh victory in the Sydney to Hobart ocean classic when it sailed down the Derwent River well clear of its nearest rival on Saturday, Dec 28, 2013, evening. -- PHOTO: AFP/REGATTANEWS.COM

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Wild Oats XI secured a record-equalling seventh victory in the Sydney to Hobart ocean classic when it sailed down the Derwent River well clear of its nearest rival on Saturday evening.

The 100-foot supermaxi overhauled Perpetual Loyal early on Friday afternoon after losing the lead in stormy weather late in the night on the opening day of the race before romping to the Tasmanian capital on favourable north-easterly winds.

Having claimed line honours in all but two of its nine attempts to win the 628 nautical-mile (1,163km) race, Wild Oats equals the record of Morna, later renamed Kurrewa IV, which won seven times between 1946 and 1960.

Light winds for much of the race meant Wild Oats was not able to come close to beating the race record of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds, which it set in winning last year.

The supermaxi crossed the line a shade over 54 hours after the race's traditional start in Sydney harbour on Boxing Day with second-placed Perpetual Loyal still some two hours away from Hobart.

The smaller boats in the remainder of the fleet are forecast to face winds of 40-60 knots and waves of up to 12 metres overnight in the volatile Bass Strait.

A repeat of the major storm that sank five yachts and killed six sailors in 1998 is unlikely, however.