Two boats withdraw from SydHob fleet

·2-min read

COVID-19 concerns have prompted two yachts to withdraw from the Sydney to Hobart fleet on the eve of the race.

Connections of the Volvo Open 70 boat Willow and the 46-foot Maverick 49 notified organisers on Saturday they were pulling out of the race, which starts on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day.

Late withdrawals or crew changes were always a possibility as sailors aboard all boats had to take a PCR test within 72 hours of the race start at 1pm.

Three members of the Willow crew tested positive to COVID-19 and co-owner Jim Cooney said he was still waiting for results of two more tests.

"There is no feasible or responsible way we can continue," said Cooney, who achieved two line honours wins and a race record on the supermaxi Comanche.

"I do have crew on standby that are negative, so it's not so much about now, but what it might be like in 48 hours."

With the potential for people to pass the virus on, Cooney said the approach was to withdraw to avoid placing anyone at risk.

"As the owner and skipper there is a moral and legal responsibility if people are carrying the virus but not showing symptoms or testing positive yet," he said.

"My son Douglas was looking forward to his first race last year, having turned 18 and has missed out again this year."

Quentin Stewart, the owner of Maverick 49 which is affiliated to the Guernsey Yacht Club, did not report any positive COVID-19 tests but opted not to take any risks.

The withdrawals reduced the fleet to 91 as of Saturday afternoon.

Once they arrive in Hobart, crew members won't be able to leave their boat until having a rapid antigen test and the owner completes a declaration that everyone aboard has returned a negative result.

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