Sydney to Hobart 2013: Perpetual Loyal decides against protest action

SAILING

Supermaxi Perpetual Loyal has decided not to proceed with a protest, after raising a flag inside the first half hour of the Sydney to Hobart race yesterday.

The protest flag was raised shortly after the first mark.

By then Wild Oats XI had passed Perpetual Loyal, which had to shot to the front soon after the start.

"We've had a meeting and decided not to proceed with the protest," Perpetual Loyal skipper Anthony Bell said.

"At first we thought we had been fouled, but in a sense we had not."

The early leading pack included the four supermaxis, Wild Oats XI, Perpetual Loyal, Ragamuffin 100 and Wild Thing as well as new 80-footer Beau Geste and the Volvo 70s Giacomo and Black Jack.

For two of the 94 boats, the race ended very quickly.

Queensland 50-foot yacht Audi Sunshine Coast was forced out in the first 30 minutes with rig damage, completing an unfortunate double.

It was also the first boat out of last month's Cabbage Tree Island Race.

The 52-foot Sydney-based Dodo had to pull out with mainsail damage and returned to the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

The protest, retirements and the thrilling early duel between Wild Oats XI and Perpetual Loyal combined to make it the most eventful and exciting start of recent times.

Fears of a rainy start to the race were allayed, as the sun broke through around an hour before the start and the fleet set sail in 15 to 18 knot southerly winds.

Supermaxi Ragamuffin 100 was right up there alongside Wild Oats XI and Perpetual Loyal as the race got under way.

The 1997 line honours winner, maxi Brindabella, broke the start and had to turn back and go around again.

Meanwhile, Illawarra-represented entries Black Sheep and St Jude were tracking well in their respective divisions.

Both Wollongong yachts made it out of Sydney Heads cleanly, with Black Sheep heading in a South Easterly direction and St Jude following the bulk of the 94-strong field and race favourite Wild Oats XI south along the NSW coast.

St Jude, skippered by experienced Illawarra yachtsman Noel Cornish, had slipped outside the top 30 last night after making an impressive start out of Sydney.

Black Sheep, owned and skippered by Derek Sheppard, had moved further out to sea and was running in about 56th overall. AAP

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