American supermaxi Comanche held the lead in the Sydney to Hobart late on the first day after an impressive start to the annual ocean race to the island state of Tasmania. Nine hours into the race, the 100-foot Comanche led seven-time and defending champion Wild Oats XI by two nautical miles. Two other supermaxis, Perpetual Loyal and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin, were third and fourth, respectively. Comanche was launched in October and is being tested for the first time in tough ocean race conditions. It’s a little bumpy, but the boat is handling the weather quite well. We’re at [winds of] 23 to 26 knots and we’re pushing hard, looking good Comanche skipper Ken Read “It’s a little bumpy, but the boat is handling the weather quite well,” Comanche skipper and former America’s Cup yachtsman Ken Read said from his yacht. “We’re at [winds of] 23 to 26 knots and we’re pushing hard, looking good.” Earlier, the hi-tech American yacht reached the first turning mark in only four minutes, 35 seconds, a 35-second edge over Wild Oats while still in Sydney Harbour. Comanche’s fast start stunned veteran race observers and also impressed Wild Oats XI skipper Mark Richards, who was heard to say on television “She’s smoking. Look at that thing go!” When told of Richards’ comments, Read credited his fellow sailors on Comanche. “The crew pulled the trigger just right,” said Read. “But you don’t get any awards for the start ...” Wild Oats set the race record of one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes, 12 seconds in 2012. Read said he and the crew hadn’t given any thought to breaking the record – “our goal is to try to be the first to finish, if the record comes, it comes”. Based on current conditions and speed, Comanche was forecast to cross the finish line at Constitution Dock in Hobart early on Sunday afternoon in just over two days and about six hours slower than the 2012 mark. There were seven early retirements among the 117 entries, including former winner Brindabella due to rudder damage.