Sydney to Hobart yacht race to go ahead with COVID-19 measures

SYDNEY (Reuters) - This year’s Sydney to Hobart yacht race will proceed with COVID-19 measures in place following Tasmania’s decision to open borders to New South Wales, the race organisers said on Wednesday.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) confirmed the Boxing Day start of the race with a 100-strong fleet following “a lengthy period of consultation with state governments, health authorities and other key stakeholders.”

“We are thrilled to have so many yachts participating this year, particularly given the general uncertainty and necessary restrictions placed on many sporting events in Australia over the past six months,” CYCA commodore Noel Cornish said in a statement.

“The size of the fleet has exceeded all our expectations and is a tremendous show of support for the race. We are excited that we can host the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in this challenging year.”

Previous winners Ichi Ban, Alive and Quest are among the confirmed starters but several international competitors have been forced out by the ongoing global restrictions following the pandemic.

Teams will be briefed online, social events around the race will not take place, and the organisers will prefer fans to watch digital livestream than throng the marina to follow Australia’s most prestigious yacht race.

Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Christian Radnedge