It was a magical moment as Wild Oats XI was about to pass Botany Bay en route to Hobart.
Photos sent to the Leader show a dolphin appearing to join the race and quickly outpacing the supermaxi yacht.
The images were captured by a crew member – who did not wish to be named – from a Whale Watching Sydney boat, which was following the fleet.
However the momentary magic, and the Wild Oats XI crew’s elation of being first across the finishing line in record time, meant nothing after the yacht was sensationally stripped of a line honours win in the 2017 Rolex Sydney to Hobart.
LDV Comanche was declared the line honours winner on Thursday after successfully protesting against Wild Oats XI.
The the two yachts nearly collided early in the race, outside Sydney Heads, on Boxing Day.
Wild Oats XI was penalised an hour, which negated its margin of 26 minutes and 34 seconds over Comanche.
Comanche’s successful protest gave it the new race record of one day, nine hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds.