27/12/2016 9:38 AM AEDT | Updated 28/12/2016 11:49 AM AEDT

Wild Oats XI Pulls Out Of Sydney To Hobart

The race leader was on course to break the record.

Jason Reed / Reuters
Wild Oats XI has retired from the race.

Sydney to Hobart yacht leader Wild Oats XI has pulled out from the race after an accident, reportedly suffering a broken hydraulic ram.

The yacht, which has won the race eight times, was well ahead of the race record time when it was forced to withdraw on Tuesday morning. The online race tracker shows Wild Oats XI had sailed clear of mainland Australia and was well on its way to Tasmania when it suddenly turned around and started to head back north around 9.30am, about 20 hours into the race.

Sydney To Hobart race tracker
Wild Oats XI on the online race tracker, turning back north

Reports state the yacht broke its hydraulic ram, which is used in steering the vessel. The Sydney to Hobart officially confirmed the news on Twitter, which was later confirmed by the crew of the vessel, who also stated everyone onboard was safe.

The misfortune of the leader was good news for those trailing, with Perpetual Loyal -- which had been several miles behind -- quickly taking the lead ahead of Giacomo.

It is not clear how the ram was broken. Weather conditions had been said to be clear and "perfect" for sailing. On Tuesday morning, mere hours before the accident, Wild Oats XI was on course to smash the race record it set back in 2012. The official race website claimed the yacht was "multiple boats ahead of record" at 5am.

It is the second year in a row that Wild Oats XI has been forced to withdraw from the race after sail issues in last year's race, and the accident came after a stunning recovery from a poor start for the supermaxi.

More to come.