Relive the major moments from the Sydney to Hobart
UPDATE: After a magic carpet ride down the coast of Tasmania the Australian supermaxi Comanche crawled to her third Sydney to Hobart line honours win on a stunning morning in Tasmania.
The wind died as the yacht made its way to the finish line on the Derwent River accompanied by a large flotilla of spectator boats.
In her wake was Sydney sailor Christian Beck's InfoTrack, the yacht which lead the 157 string starting fleet in its journey south on Boxing Day.
A dream downwind run the second might of the fave saw Comanche unleash, with the supermaxi opening up miles on her rivals.
She needed every mile of her lead, with the lighter supermaxis potentially coming back into l,ah as the winds lightened early Saturday.
Neutral Bay businessman Jim Cooney bought the record breaking yacht from American Netscape billionaire Jim Clark in 2017 after it won the 2015 Sydney to Hobart for the American and his wife, supermodel Kristy Hinze-Clark.
Dubbed the air-craft carrier of world ocean racing due to her wide, powerful shape, Comanche at the time owned the world 24 hour sailing distance record for monohulls, the trans-Atlantic crossing record and the Transpacific race record.
Since then Cooney has skippered the 100 footer to a multitude of wins and is the current Sydney to Hobart race record holder.
6.30am: Comanche is on track to claim line honours in the 75th Sydney to Hobart, after making the most of overnight winds to break free of a five-strong supermaxi pack.
At 6am (AEDT) on Saturday the two-time winner was about 14 nautical miles ahead of InfoTrack in Hobart's River Derwent.
Comanche is tipped to cross the line shortly after 7am.
But there was a moment of tension when Comanche came to a standstill in the middle of the Derwent for a few minutes before the wind picked up again.
Not long after, the race leader came to a stop again with the finish line within sight, and InfoTrack fast appraoching the Derwent.
She regained the lead on Friday evening after taking a wider route across Bass Strait before extending her advantage down Tasmania's east coast.
Black Jack, Hong Kong's SHK Scallywag 100 and nine-time winner Wild Oats XI are jostling for third position about five miles behind InfoTrack. Comanche, skippered by Samantha Grant and Jim Cooney, was last year pipped by Wild Oats XI in a nail-biting finish on the River Derwent.
NSW boat Minerva became the fleet's third retirement overnight, reducing the number of yachts on the water to 154.
OVERNIGHT: A Saturday morning finish is predicted for the 2019 Sydney to Hobart with a drag race on the Derwent River between all five supermaxis a possibility after a big blow overnight.
The supermaxi fleet will race in strong northerlies on Friday night - conditions the big, beamy Comanche owned by Sydney businessman Jim Cooney will revel in.
But with the wind comes the danger of sail damage with any mishap potentially fatal to a crew's hopes of success in the chase for line honours.
This means all five 100-footers - Comanche, Scallywag, Black Jack, Wild Oats and InfoTrack - are all still right in the mix for the fastest time victory.
"Things will start to power up again and so will Comanche," said expert yachting meteorologist Roger Badham this afternoon.
The leaders could be racing in up to 40 knots tonight as they race towards the finish of the 628 nautical mike race.
"They will flying down the coast of Tasmania," Badham said.
While the stronger conditions will suit 2017 line honours winner Comanche, the lighter winds predicted to follow will favour her rivals.
This will put the likes of Scallywag, Black Jack and Wild Oats back in frame for the line honours.
"It could be the best finish we have ever seen in this race," said Scallywag skipper David Witt.
Christian Beck's InfoTrack returned to the front of the fleet this afternoon for the first time since leading out Sydney Heads at the start of the race at 1pm on Boxing Day.
She was being shadowed by Scallywag and Black Jack with Comanche further out to sea.
Ichi Ban, Stay Calm Hungary, Quest and Gweillo were vying for the lead in the battle for corrected time honours.
1pm: The mystery over Wild Oats' sudden lack of pace may have been solved with a rival skipper reporting they were "parked up" with the supermaxi on Friday morning.
Naval Group skipper Sean Langman said he and other yachts - including Wild Oats - sailed into a "parking lot", losing valuable ground to their rivals.
By Saturday afternoon Wild Oats had managed to get itself back into fifth place and around 15nm behind fleet leader Scallywag.
Quest, Ichi Ban and Stay Calm Hungary were vying for the lead in the race for overall honours.
11am: Defending champion Wild Oats XI is back up to pace after suffering a mystery issue which saw the yacht fall well behind her supermaxi rivals on day two of the Sydney to Hobart.
The famous Australian multiple winner was clocking speeds close to 20 knots on Friday morning after appearing to stop almost dead in the water.
The boat may have suffered damage or had an issue with its sails.
It may also have simply sailed into a wind hole.
The frontrunners entered Bass Strait on Friday morning without apparent incident.
Scallywag Skipper David Witt had been concerned pre-race about being able to radio in at Green Cape - the entrance to the Strait - as part of a rule introduced in the wake of the fatal 1998 race.
It appears they and others were able to meet their obligations without incident.
The Hong Kong entry continues to lead the line honours race with Jim Cooney's Comanche has opted for a different track, sailing out wide.
This tactic may prove advantageous later in the race.
Sydney skipper Matt Allen and his Ichi Ban crew have moved into top place in the race for the overall honours.
Allen won the race two years ago on his 52-footer.
"If I was going to back anyone it would be us," Allen said before the race after studying the forecast weather conditions.
8am: The supermaxis have emerged from the first night at sea unscathed and are now picking up pace as they enter Bass Strait with Comanche and Scallywag in the lead.
The pair are being closely followed by Black Jack, Wild Oats XI and InfoTrack with just over 15 nm between the five fleet frontruners,
Light winds slowed the fleet the first night at sea but the speed has now started to increase.
Amazingly a 105 year old yacht is mixing it with the high tech racers in the race for the overall honours.
Katwinchar this morning was actually leading this battle from URM, Bush Paul Group.
Two yachts have retired in Hollywood Boulevard and Faster Forward.
DAY ONE WRAP: Skipper David Witt has forecast a ferocious battle on the Derwent River will decide this year's Sydney to Hobart as the fleet front runners flew down the NSW coast at record pace late Thursday.
But Witt, the skipper of the supermaxi Scallywag, was predicting the joyride - where yachts were hitting speeds close to 30 knots - would end as darkness fell and winds lightened across the racetrack.
"It's how everyone gets through the transition that will matter," said Witt of rivals Comanche, Wild Oats XI, Black Jack and InfoTrack.
"Pretty much everyone of us is going the same speed.
"I still think this race will come down to the Derwent River (the final 11 nautical miles of the 628nm race).
"That's where it will be decided it's that close."
The 157 strong fleet exited Sydney Harbour after the 1pm start in less than an hour, with InfoTrack winning the honours in the race out to open sea.
But it was there Comanche pounced, overhauling Christian Beck's 100-footer to take the lead for the first time.
The lighter yachts - Scallywag, Wild Oats and Black Jack - are hoping their time to shine will come when the winds lighten overnight.
In other news, native Australian birds caused major dramas for a Sydney to Hobart contender whose crew had to make emergency repairs to wiring at the top of their mast even before leaving the dock for the start of the Sydney to Hobart.
The experienced crew on Primitive Cool realised their wind instruments were damaged prior to the 1pm start of the race.
As other yachts made their way out to the harbour a crewman was sent to the towering mast to make repairs.
A cockatoo had chewed through the electrics with a repair only possible by sending a sailor aloft to replace wiring.
It is understood the repair was affected with the yacht on the start line when the canon fired at 1pm.
But the last minute aerial act was the last thing the crew needed as it prepared for the start.
The 51-footer is among the contenders for the overall win in this years race south.
InfoTrack sailing master Brad Kellett's has described the fast and furious ride down the NSW coast at the start of the Sydney to Hobart as "great fun" despite being overtaken by Jim Cooney's Comanche soon after the start.
"She's come into her own," said Kellett of 2017 line honours winner Comanche which was late Thursday revelling in moderate to strong nor'easterlies at the front of the pack.
"We're getting 20 odd knots out of the boat.
"It's been great fun. We are looking forward to the next few hours.
"It's always nice to get out the Harbour first and in one piece but there's plenty of sailing
Navigators will soon be under serious pressure to make a decision which could win or loose them the race - go offshore in the hunt for current or stay inshore in the hope of finding more wind.
While the supermaxis were enjoying a rapid ride down the NSW coast the joyride could be short lived with winds expected to lighten overnight.
This makes positioning crucial for the front runners and the yachts hoping to make a big impression in the race for the overall honours.
Jim Cooney's line honours winner Comanche has taken the lead off Infotrack as the entire 157 strong fleet exited Sydney Harbour less than an hour after the 1pm start.
The supermaxi, which has Cooney's wife Samantha, daughter Julia and son James aboard, was flying down the NSW clocking speeds in excess of 24 knots.
In her wake was InfoTrack, which has in her crew vaunted Volvo round-the-world skipper Chris Nicholson, Wild Oats X1, Scallywag and Black Jack.
All five supermaxis were on a rollicking ride south and revelling in the moderate to strong nor'easterlies.
The US cruising boat Cailin Lomhara has the distinction of being the last yacht to clear Sydney Heads.
The biggest fleet in 25 years has put on a spectacular show of force at the start of the Sydney to Hobart with the supermaxis leading 157 yachts up the harbour and out to see under blue skies, in a perfect breeze and farewelled by one of the biggest spectator armadas in recent times.
The mass start against an outgoing strong tide was clean with no yacht having to return or do a penalty turn for breaking the start canon.
In a surprise it was Infotrack, owned by Sydney's Christian Beck, who won the race to the Heads and out into open water.
It was then neck and neck between Wild Oats, Scallywag, Black Jack and Comanche as the supermaxis lead the fleet down the NSW Coast.
However it wasn't long before race favourites Comanche claimed the lead, tracking further off shore in the first hour to move into a commanding position early.
One of the biggest spectator flotillas in recent years crammed the harbour - in stark contrast to the few spectators who farewelled the nine yachts in 1945 who created tradition of the famed Bluewater classic rum every year since.
With nor'easter lies freshening this afternoon is gearing up for a high speed magic carpet ride down the NSW Coast in the opening stanza if the race.
After battling to repair major structural damage sustained when the mast punched through deck in a leadup race defending line honours champion Wild Oats XI tactician was declared ready to rock prestart by tactician Iain Murray.
"We've been preparing for 15 years; same boat. It's one of those things … Comanche is one extreme, and we are the other extreme.
"The skinny little boat (Wild Oats) likes some light breeze going downwind and the bigger boats like to reach.
"So, it's going to be a test of where we go and how much of each one you get.
"I'm sure there's going to be a bit of cat and mouse in all this."
12PM: All crews in the 75th anniversary race are now on Sydney Harbour monitoring wind, having last minute briefings and checking sails and equipment as the clock ticks down to the 1pm start.
Some yachts are making runs at the start line to check both current and wind and which end of the four start lines is the most favourable when the canon fires at 1pm to send them on their way.
All yachts must go past the start boat flying a storm jib sail, a compulsory part of their sail wardrobe since the deadly 1998 race where six men lost their lives.
Under blues skies and a freshening nor'easterly sailors are having a quick bite to eat and fuelling with water as they attempt to calm nerves ahead of the adrenaline rush start.
The fleet of 157 is the biggest since the 50th race 25 years ago.
It is also too heavy with five 100-footers leading the fleet south.
Thousands of family members and general public flocked to the CYCA this morning to help with the last minute provisioning of yachts and to farewell the fleet.
Sydney Harbour is clogged with boats, ranging in size from canoes and kayaks to giant cruise boats all eager to farewell the fleet as it heads south.
9.30AM: Picture perfect conditions are forecast for the starts of the 75th Sydney to Hobart which now appears will be one of the "easiest'' treks south for crews in recent years but a brain teaser for navigators and tacticians.
A building nor'easterly will see the fleet of 157 race off four start lines on a congested Sydney Harbour at 1pm.
Once out into open sea the majority of yachts will set their spinnakers and begin a fun and fast sleigh ride down the NSW coast.
"It looks like another easy race. The last 10 years we have had three like this but not with such a decrease of wind on the south coast,'' Badham said on Boxing Day.
Top sailing meteorologist on Boxing Day morning was still predicting the race record would be safe for at least another year with the fleet frontrunners not expected to arrive in Hobart until Saturday.
He is also predicting the race forecast - which only has a southerly for the tailenders of the fleet - will favour the mid-sized yachts for the overall victory such as the 2017 winner Ichi Ban.
The forecast is also playing into the hands of four of the five supermaxis headlining the fleet - Comanche, Wild Oats X1, Scallywag and Black Jack.
The 75th Sydney to Hobart can't be won on Sydney Harbour or in the first hour of the race on Boxing Day - but it can be lost.
No one knows this better than defending champion Wild Oats XI and her crew who two years ago copped a penalty after the 628 nautical mile race to Hobart finished for an incident with a rival yacht just off Sydney Heads.
2019 RACE WEATHER: Forecast for Boxing Day race
SYDNEY-HOBART GUIDE: Start, results, news, history
DEBUTANT: Sweet ride for Sydney-Hobart first timer
BUSHFIRE SMOKE: Scallywag crew honour sailor lost at sea
It was an error which cost them the 2017 Sydney to Hobart line honours.
It's why tactician Iain Murray says the crew will be playing it safe in the first hour or so of the Australian bluewater classic.
"You don't want to get in any sort of trouble at the start or it could be race over,'' Murray said.
"We know that from what happened a few years ago.''
Comanche, skippered by Jim Cooney was awarded the race win - and also holds the race record for the Sydney to Hobart going into the 75th Anniversary race starting at 1pm on Boxing Day.
The race record of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds appears unlikely to be eclipsed this year on current weather forecasts.
REVAMPED: What's been done to Wild Oats this year?
Former overall winner Comanche has been installed as favourite for the line honours in this years race by the TAB on Christmas Eve..
Jim Cooney's 100-footer Comanche is currently the $2.80 favourite at TAB to claim line honours.
Nine-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI was $2.80 favourite on Saturday.
She is now the $3.25 second elect due to the money for Comanche.
Black Jack was runner-up in the battle for line honours 12 months ago and has drifted from as short as $3 to $3.75 courtesy of the support for Comanche.
SHK Scallywag 100 has eased in the past seven days from $4.50 to $7.
FACTS AND FIGURES
#The slowest race was in 1945 by Peter Luke's yacht Wayfarer which took 11 days, six hours and 20 minutes to complete the race.
#The closest line honours finish was in l982 when Condor of Bermuda beat Apollo by just seven seconds
#In 2001 just 47 minutes separated the first six boats and in 2018 just 42 minutes separated the first four boats over the line.
#This is the biggest fleet since the 50th anniversary when 371 started and 309 finished.
In 1985 there were 179 starters and in 1984 155 boats were on the start line.
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