COVID stops Sydney to Hobart record dash

Scott Bailey
·2-min read

The skipper of Sydney to Hobart favourite InfoTrack says COVID-19 has cost his crew not only a shot to win the iconic event but also their realistic chance at a race record.

Each of the contenders in the 75-strong field for the 2020 are coming to terms with the decision to call off the bluewater classic.

Generally most crews accept the race's first cancellation in 76 years, but it hasn't made the call any easier.

Strong north-easterly winds were predicted for Boxing Day, with heavy conditions likely to have played into the hands of InfoTrack.

So much so, that just hours before Saturday night's decision to call the race off computer projections had InfoTrack a big chance to break Comanche's race record from 2017.

"When we looked it at it yesterday, the computer was showing a day and a half, four hours inside the record," InfoTrack skipper Christian Beck told AAP.

"It's unbelievably unfortunate for us it's not going ahead.

"Our boat is good for heavy weather, and the winds were in the right direction and very strong. We would've been great."

InfoTrack previously claimed the race record as Perpetual LOYAL in 2016 with 1 day, 13 hours and 31 minutes, only to see Comanche go four hours quicker the next year.

"If we had of broken the record that would've been fantastic as well," Beck said.

"The longer-range forecast can change a bit, but the way it's looking right now the weather would've been good.

"But I do understand the decision.

"We're still very lucky, there are a lot of people around the world dying so I'm certainly not going to complain we can't race our yacht."

The call also capped a year of frustration for InfoTrack's chief rival Black Jack, with an uncanny sense of deja vu.

They made the call after last year's race to take the yacht to Monaco at the start of 2020 for two years on the European Circuit.

The main crew didn't travel due to the pandemic, with their primary focus the Maxi World Championships in Italy called off two days out from start in late August.

"So we realised Australia was our best chance, so we shipped the boat back again on the hope we could do the Sydney to Hobart," skipper Mark Bradford said.

"We thought we'd be OK here, because there was such little transmission for so much time. Whereas Europe was always bubbling along."

By Friday though that loomed as unlikely, with four of the crew - including Bradford - among the 150 race-wide who live in Sydney's northern beaches.

And on Sunday, the focus was for 2021 and staying in Australia.

"We can make those decisions now. We know international travel is unlikely so we can plan a domestic season," Bradford said.

"All with the thought of Hobart, 2021."