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American super maxi Comanche first out Sydney Harbour in annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race

  • Comanche, right, and  Wild Oats XI, left, jostle for a start position before the start of the Sydney Hobart yacht race in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

    Comanche, right, and Wild Oats XI, left, jostle for a start position before the start of the Sydney Hobart yacht race in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)  (The Associated Press)

  • A helicopter hovers low to get images of some of the competitors during the start of the Sydney Hobart yacht race in Sydney, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. The 117-boat fleet is expected to have a bumpy first night at sea, with southerly gusting up to 30 knots and choppy conditions. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

    A helicopter hovers low to get images of some of the competitors during the start of the Sydney Hobart yacht race in Sydney, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. The 117-boat fleet is expected to have a bumpy first night at sea, with southerly gusting up to 30 knots and choppy conditions. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)  (The Associated Press)

  • Great Britain's Zarah Phillips, granddaughter to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, signs an autograph at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia  before the start of the Sydney To Hobart yacht race in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Glenn Nicholls)

    Great Britain's Zarah Phillips, granddaughter to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, signs an autograph at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia before the start of the Sydney To Hobart yacht race in Sydney, Australia, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Glenn Nicholls)  (The Associated Press)

American super maxi Comanche took the lead at the start and was the first to leave Sydney Harbour in the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race Friday.

Comanche, launched in October and being tested for the first time in race conditions, held a slender lead over seven-time and defending champion Wild Oats XI.

They are two of five super maxis in the 117-yacht fleet that will sail down the New South Wales coast and across Bass Strait to the island state of Tasmania, a total of 628 nautical miles.

Comanche, skippered by former America's Cup yachtsman Ken Read, and the rest of the fleet were expected to face 30-knot southerly winds later Friday.

Wild Oats set the race record of 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes, 12 seconds in 2012.