SYDNEY, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- The all Chinese sailing team, De Rucci, has made a strong start in Australia's 73rd Sydney to Hobart yacht race on Tuesday, leaving the harbor city well up the front of the pack.
With a slight easterly breeze that's expected to swing around to the north later into the afternoon, conditions are set to favor lighter, faster boats like the De Rucci, which is a TP-52 designed for Grand Prix racing in the Mediterranean.
But skipper Qing Dong told Xinhua before the race, although the forecast was welcome news, his team is still preparing for a tough race.
"Yes! The weather is very good for us," he said.
"But the Sydney to Hobart is a very classic race and is often very unpredictable, so we expect it will still pose a big challenge for us."
This is the third time the Shanghai-based Noah's sailing team has taken part in the Boxing Day Classic, with this year's preparation the most extensive yet.
"We arrived here in Sydney at the beginning of November to get ready," Qing said.
"We've done a lot of training and we hope to get a good result, the crew are very excited."
At the start of the race, the favored 100 ft supermaxis - LDV Comanche, Wild Oats XI, InfoTrack and Black Jack led the fleet through Sydney heads.
But on the first tack south, there was a highly controversial moment when Wild Oats XI failed to give way to Comanche at a turning mark.
As a result, Comanche was forced to change course and Skipper Jimmy Spithill launched an official protest after the boats narrowly avoided a collision by little more than one metre.
Many experts have predicted the race record of one day, 13 hours, could be broken as the four giants battle their way down the east coast of the country.
The line honors winner is expected to arrive in Hobart tomorrow evening, while the winner of the prestigious handicap category, which the De Rucci is in the running for, is likely to land on Constitution Dock sometime early Thursday.