COVID testing at finish of Sydney Hobart

Published on December 28th, 2021

Hobart, Australia (December 28, 2021) – When the 2020 Sydney Hobart Race was cancelled the week before it was due to start because of COVID-related issues, concern that the 2021 edition would fold too with rising case numbers. The solution was for all 928 sailors across 93 boats to take PCR tests, 72 hours before the start in Sydney Harbor on December 26.

A negative result was needed to step off the boat in the historic port city of Hobart, which not every crew received. Along with a brutal forecast for the 628nm course, the fleet was down to 88 starters.

But when some crew still hadn’t received their PCR test results before the start on Sydney Harbour, the mandate was for any entrant to immediately retire if a crew member gets a message saying they have tested positive for COVID-19.

That dilemma has not dissipated as test results have still not all been confirmed, but the fix will now allow them to step foot on Tasmanian soil if they undertake another test and clear it.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Commodore Noel Cornish confirmed today all sailors must now do and pass a rapid antigen test to depart from the boat.

Like any other sailor, if the crews still waiting for a pre-race result pass the RAT test, they will be free to step ashore.

Scallywag skipper David Witt said from his supermaxi at sea he was worried he would not be able to go ashore when his yacht arrives in Hobart because he had not got a test result back. It is understood he is not the only sailor affected by a late test result.

“Anyone who has not received the result of their PCR test in Sydney when they arrive here, and before the dock, must do a rapid antigen test like everyone else,” said Cornish. “If they are negative they can step off onto the dock.”

Cornish said if anyone is positive they will need to abide by the rules in Tasmania and find accommodation to self-isolate.

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The 628 nm Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race will be the 76th edition in 2021 with a fleet of 88 boats that include three international entries. One hundred fifty seven teams set off in 2019 for the 75th edition, but since then the 2020 race was cancelled due to the pandemic and uncertainty has hovered this year.

From the start in Sydney Harbour, the fleet sails out into the Tasman Sea, down the south-east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait (which divides the mainland from the island State of Tasmania), then down the east coast of Tasmania. At Tasman Island the fleet turns right into Storm Bay for the final sail up the Derwent River to the historic port city of Hobart.


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