Demo Derby to Hobart

The crew of Team Fine Line USA wanted to do a Sydney Hobart Race, so the weather gods are handing them and the other 110 entries an experience that they'll remember all their lives. Thanks to gale-force conditions and a brutal wave pattern, 55 boats that started the race the day after Christmas won't be finishing it, including some of the top contenders. Grant Wharrington's 98-foot canting ballast supermaxi Skandia Wild Thing had to be abandoned after problems with the swinging keel hydraulics locked the bulb and strut over to one side. The 14-man crew took to the rafts and was collected by a police launch. Wharrington has a salvage team on the way to Skandia in an attempt to recover the boat. Stuart Thwaites and his crew aboard his 100ft supermaxi Konica Minolta had a run-in with a rogue wave, flying off the top of it only to discover that it had no back. After the resulting crash they found damage to the cabin top between the mast and the canting keel sleeve that indicated the boat might break in half if they continued to sail. They retired, leaving Ludde Ingvall's brand-new 90-footer Nicorette as the sole supermaxi racing. Nicorette finished the race in 2d:16h to claim line honors. As of ten o'clock Thursday morning, Sydney time, Team Fine Line USA is still slugging it out and had 162 miles to go to the finish line up the Derwent River in Hobart. Eight boats have finished, 50 boats are still at sea, and the bulk of the trophies have yet to be decided. To follow Team Fine Line's progress, see: