(Image: Wild Oats Skipper Mark Richards (centre) holds aloft the line honours R H Illingwrth trophy after the 74th annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race in Hobart, Friday, December 28, 2018. AAP Image/Rob Blakers)
Redemption was the catch-cry of Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards as the yacht claimed its ninth Sydney to Hobart line honours win.
But runners-up Black Jack cast an element of controversy over the victory by claiming an electronic tracker on the winning boat was turned off.
Wild Oats XI was first to cross the finish line at 8.07am on Friday in Hobart after one of the closest contests in the event's history.
A pack of four supermaxis had fought tooth and nail over the 628 nautical mile race, with Wild Oats XI only pulling ahead just before dawn on the final day.
Black Jack was just 29 minutes behind Wild Oats XI in second. Dending line honours champions Comanche followed closely in third, with Infotrack fourth.
It was sweet relief for the Wild Oats XI crew, who were forced to retire in 2015 and '16.
And last year Wild Oats XI was first past the post but lost line honours to Comanche after a time penalty for an infringement at the start of the race.
"It's a day of redemption for us that's for sure. We're so happy with the result," Richards said.
But the owner of Black Jack, Peter Harburg, has said Wild Oats XI's Automatic Identification System (AIS) was turned off towards the end of the race.
Wild Oats XI navigator Juan Vila told News Corp Australia he had turned the AIS on and believed the system had been on for the entire race, which could point to a malfunction.
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."
Sydney to Hobart regulations required an AIS transponder to be carried and switched on so that it is receiving and transmitting.
Richards has brushed off the controversy as a storm in a tea cup.
Harburg hasn't lodge a protest but believes the Sydney to Hobart race committee should look into it.
Boats have up to six hours after finishing to lodge a protest but at 5pm none had been received by the race committee.
Wild Oats XI won in a time of one day, 19 hours, 7 minutes, 21 seconds, with after an overnight gamble to sail a wider route near Tasman Island paying off.
"That was a game-winning manoeuvre right there," Richards said.
Richards had a traditional dip in the River Derwent, champagne drenching and not-so-traditional "shoey" at the end of the 74th edition of the race.
He said the 14-year-old yacht was an Australian icon on a par with Phar Lap.
It is the first line honours win for Wild Oats XI since the passing of owner Bob Oatley in 2016.
Handicap honours remain open, with last year's winner Ichi Ban in the mix.
© AAP 2018