JUST under 20 hours after leaving Sydney, the world's most advanced ocean racing yacht sliced its way into Coffs Harbour yesterday to claim first place in the 24th Strathfield Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race.
Wild Oats, skippered by Mark Richards, was greeted by a dockside throng after crossing the finish line in 19 hours 58 minutes and 17 seconds.
Blown home by 25-knot winds that left their main rival Targe floundering with ruined sails, the crew of Wild Oats
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worked tirelessly throughout the night to give the yacht its first Australian offshore race win.
"We had a really, really enjoyable time," Richards said.
"Not one person had any sleep during the night and we must have had 50 sail changes so it was pretty full on for the crew but very enjoyable."
Wild Oats looks set to also claim handicap honours in the Strathfield Pittwater-Coffs Harbour race, which would be the third time in a row for yachts bearing its name.
Vanguard crossed the line in second place, more than two hours behind the winner, with Andrew Shore Marine just 17 second further back. Targe finished fourth.
Coffs Harbour Vietnam Veterans Association members, who operate a snack bar at the Coffs Harbour Yacht Club during race week, will donate their profits this week to the Asian tsunami relief appeal. The snack bar will be open to the public until Friday.