All offshore racing programs rely on continuity. Skippers and crew need to know a familiar, repetitive calendar of events to plan their seasons. COVID has punched huge holes in that process.
In Australia, because of rigorous government responses to the pandemic, there have been virtually no substantial blue-water events for the past 18 months. Restrictions on group activities are severe and enthusiastically policed. As a result, the sport of offshore racing may be in real danger of drifting towards insignificance.
Perhaps as a reaction to those fears the governing body, Australian Sailing, has today announced the inaugural Australian Maxi Championship. It is to be sailed in early December by which time, presumably, everyone hopes the Coronavirus cloud will have finally blown away.
This is an entirely new five-day event and should bring together the best Down Under boats over 60 feet LOA. It will be hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and serve as a run-up to the Sydney-Hobart Race. CYCA Commodore Noel Cornish welcomed the event, saying “We look forward to working with Australian Sailing and the fleet to lay a solid foundation for what will be an entertaining series for years to come.”
The Australian Maxi Championship will be conducted over four races in three divisions: Maxis (80-100 foot), Mini Maxis (60-79 foot) and Racer Cruisers (60 foot+). The first race will be the 180nm round trip to Cabbage Tree Island, the traditional hit-out before the Sydney-Hobart. Two short one-day passage races will follow, then the series concludes with the spectacular Big Boat Challenge event on Sydney Harbour.