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Shockwave Takes Lead in Yacht Race

December 26, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ The maxi yacht Shockwave led the 56th Sydney to Hobart yacht race out of Sydney Harbor in perfect summer conditions Tuesday, although the 82-boat fleet was bracing for the gale-force wind forecast for later in the race.

Shockwave was just ahead of rival Australian maxi, Wild Thing, as the yachts unfurled spinnakers in a 10-knot northeasterly breeze and sailed through the Sydney Heads into the Pacific Ocean.

The 630-nautical mile blue water classic south along Australia’s eastern coast is expected to be buffeted by strong winds in Bass Strait, between the Australian mainland and the island state of Tasmania.

All competing yachts were subjected to stringent safety standards introduced earlier this month following the release of the findings of an inquest into the deaths of six sailors in the disastrous 1998 event.

Organizers expected the 2000 edition to be the safest Sydney to Hobart ever after adopting several safety recommendations contained in the coroner’s report.

Among the changes was a mandatory requirement for all yachts to report their operational status and safety checks to organizers before crossing Bass Strait.

The Australian Cruising Yacht Club, the host club, has ordered that any yachts that fail to radio their status would be disqualified.

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