Major sailing events around the world continue to succumb to the Coronavirus. The latest victim is Australia’s favourite “get away from it all” outing for offshore yachts, the Hamilton Island Race Week. The cancellation of the 37-year-old event was announced last night.
Hamilton Island is a resort in the Whitsunday group in North Queensland. The island is owned by the Oatley family, owners of the famous Wild Oats ocean racers. A resurgence in COVID-19, mainly in the Southern cities of Australia, prompted the Queensland state government yesterday to include Sydney as a virus “hot spot”. That means that travel between Sydney and Queensland is now severely restricted until further notice.
The Hamilton Island Race management issued a brief statement explaining their decision:
“The Queensland Government has recently declared numerous COVID-19 hotspots and yesterday announced the inclusion of Greater Sydney. In light of this announcement and despite our best intentions to host the event, our Race Management team who are so vital to the smooth and fair conduct of the sailing, are now unable to travel. As such, we have made the tough decision to cancel Hamilton Island Race Week 2020.”
Entrants Full will be offered full refunds of their entry fees.
Meanwhile, there is now speculation that the first major offshore event of the season – the Sydney-Gold Coast Race – may also be in jeopardy. Its start, scheduled for October 3, was already delayed by two months because of COVID.
The Gold Coast race is largely a “feeder” for the Hamilton Island event with many of the competitors continuing North to the Whitsundays after the finish at Southport. – anarchist David