Not again: Drama emerging over Wild Oats XI’s Sydney to Hobart win

Controversy over the failure of the electronic tracker aboard Wild Oats XI has marred the supermaxi's ninth Sydney to Hobart line honours win.

The Mark Richards-skippered yacht crossed the line in Hobart at 8.07am on Friday, outpacing three super maxis in one of the closest races in the event's history.

Triumphant: Mark Richards hoists the J.H. Illingworth trophy after Wild Oats XI arrived in Hobart.Credit:AAP

But the owner of second-placed Black Jack, Peter Harburg, said Wild Oats XI's Automatic Identification System (AIS) was off towards the end of the race.

Wild Oats navigator Juan Vila has told the Daily Telegraph that he had turned the AIS on and believed the system had been on for the entire race, which could point to a malfunction.

Richards said the issue was a "storm in a teacup".

“We were in sight of each other the whole race, it was that close,” Richards said.

However, Harburg said Black Jack was left disadvantaged because they didn't know where Wilds Oats XI was sailing.

"The rules say it's got to be on all the time," he told the ABC.

"They knew where we were all the time, so that has disadvantaged us and Comanche and we are very disappointed in that."

Harburg, however, doesn't intend to lodge a protest but believes the Sydney to Hobart race committee should look into it.

If a dispute is filed, an international jury will examine the complaint.

A race spokeswoman said at 12pm (AEDT) that the race committee had not received any protests.

Boats have up to six hours after finishing to lodge an official protest.

Comanche skipper Jim Cooney, who finished third, said he could not remember whether Wild Oats XI's location information was visible on his display.

But Cooney said he would not be filing a complaint.

"I don't feel disadvantaged or unfairly treated because the information about the yachts' performance is fairly readily available," Cooney said.

The same data that powers the yacht tracker on the race website, which is seperate to AIS, is available to yacht crews.

In such a tight race, Cooney said he could also see the other super maxis from Comanche's deck for most of the trip.

Cooney added that it was fairly common for other yachts' AIS location to appear and disappear throughout the race.

Wild Oats XI was first past the post last year but was stripped of line honours after a rule breach at the race's start, with a subsequent time penalty handing victory to Comanche.

Wild Oats XI finished this year in a time of one day, 19 hours, seven minutes and 21 seconds.

"It's a day of redemption for us that's for sure. We're so happy with the result," Richards said.

Black Jack was just 28 minutes behind, followed narrowly by Comanche and then Infotrack.

After Comanche led for most of the race, Wild Oats XI made an overnight gamble to sail a wider route near Tasman Island. It paid off.

"We basically sailed around the opposition and got ourselves into a position where the breeze filled in from the southwest – this morning we were in the right spot," Richards said.

"That was a game-winning manoeuvre right there."

Richards had a traditional dip in the River Derwent and champagne celebration, including the less-traditional decision to drink from a shoe, at the conclusion of the 74th race.

"It was an amazing contest all the way until the end and I take my hat off to all of the maxi boats," he said.

Meanwhile, Tasmanian-owned yacht Alive is leading the race for handicap honours.

This year's fleet has been reduced to 80 yachts, with Calypso retiring due to steering issues late on Thursday night.

With AAP

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