The third day of the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race has turned quite fierce between maxi boats Investec Loyal and Wild Oats XI as the line honours is now more contentious up to the finish.

(Update: After crossing the finish line with only a 3 minute advantage over Wild Oats XI, Investec Loyal's victory is now under protest and a hearing will be held Thursday at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania at 10 AM AEST.

The Race Committee is protesting Investec Loyal under Racing Rule of Sailing 41 that states: "The sail number of a boat which receives outside help will be notified to the Race Committee with details of the incident and a hearing may be held (if required) to determine any penalty. The penalty for Rule 41 shall be at the discretion of the Race Committee."

The description of the incident on the protest form is as follows: "Audio recording of conversation between ABC helicopter and Investec Loyal seeking information from the helicopter of the sail plan in use on Wild Oats XI. In particular information as to whether Wild Oats XI was flying a trysail. This is assessed to breach 41 by soliciting help from an outside source."

Neither teams were complacent as Investec late Wednesday took the lead with barely 1 nautical mile advantage over defending champion Wild Oats XI.

Wild Oats XI's co-navigator Ian Burns said in an interview by Lisa Ratcliff that overtaking opportunities may present themselves to Investec Loyal all the way to finish of this epic 628 nautical mile race.

The Mark Richards-skippered Wild Oats XI regained the race lead this morning with four nautical miles ahead of Anthony Bell's same sized super maxi Investec Loyal. But later in the day as they approach Iron Pot.

"It's tricky out here," admitted Burns late this morning. "The good conditions we had running in for the last few hours have somewhat evaporated. We are just keeping the boat rolling along, which is quite a challenge.

"We've got Loyal quite close and to leeward. They are doing a nice job keeping their options open, keeping as much distance between us and them so that if they have an opportunity they can make the most of it."

"The guys [on Wild Oats XI] are working hard; no-one's complacent by any stretch. Loyal's throwing everything they've got at us. We've got a relatively good tactical position at the moment.

Retired Boats

There are now 11 boats off to return to Sydney after a hard battle at sea and collecting mishaps along the way.

The boats that retired and their status as of 5:30AEST.

Accenture Yeah Baby - Retired - gear failure - at Sydney
Alacrity - Retired - Rig damage - at Eden
Alchemy III - Retired - Rig damage - at Eden
Celestial - Retired: Broken Gooseneck - at Sydney
ColorTile - Retired - Rig damage - Heading Eden
Duende - Retired - Engine problems - Heading Sydney
Elektra - Retired- Engine problems - at Eden
Ffreefire 52 - Retired - Mainsail track damage - Heading Sydney
Illusion - Retired - Hull damage - heading Sydney
Pretty Fly III - Retired - at Eden
Wild Thing - Retired - sail damage - heading Sydney

Closest Finish

The closest finish in the race's history was in 1982 when Condor of Bermuda beat Apollo by seven seconds.

The 2003 race was another close one when Skandia beat Zana by 14 minutes 24 seconds. In 2007 Wild Oats XI beat City Index Leopard by 27 minutes 23 seconds and in 1997 Brindabella and Exile duelled in the river with Brindabella taking line honours by 9 minutes 28 seconds. With reports from the Rolex Sydney Hobart Media