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‘It’s not a small amount’ – Sydney to Hobart sailors waiting for Covid results

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Rumours half the crew in the fleet have yet to have results returned from tests done within 72 hours of the start were circulating through the fleet.One supermaxi sailor confirmed 14 of his 18 crews were still nervously waiting for results of tests done on December 23 and December 24 at 8pm last night.“We are all really worried,’’ he said.Three other sailors contacted from different yachts also said they were waiting for results.Those affected included supermaxis, overall contenders and the two-handed fleet.When approached by NewsLocal Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore Noel Cornish late on Saturday night confirmed the club was aware of the problem,“It’s not a small amount,’’ Cornish said of the number of sailor affected.“We are faced with people wanting to sail who might not have their test results in time.“We have been talking to the authorities in Tasmania and at this stage the indication is they will allow people to sail in the race with a PCR test yet to come.’’Cornish said he will give crews the latest information on the situation by the early morning race briefing ahead of the 1pm start on Sydney Harbour.THINK PINK! THE COLOURFUL BOAT HOPING FOR A SURPRISE WINIt’s big, bold and very bright but the eye-catching Stefan Racing could still pull off a major sting in the 2021 Sydney to Hobart which lost two yachts from its fleet on Christmas Day.The 80-footer is the former champion yacht Beau Geste and has at its helm one of the most experienced ocean racers in the country in Grant Wharington and a dream of winning the race overall on corrected time.It is also set up for the nasty pounding forecast for the opening stanza of the famous race returning after its Covid cancellation a year ago, putting it in contention for the overall race honours if the weather makes this year’s Sydney to Hobart “a big boat race”.“The boat is Pink, out uniforms are magenta, you won’t miss us coming, we are bright. And out wet weather is lime green,” Wharington said.“It’s a very quick boat in certain condition. The worse it is the better we are.“It’s a good forecast for us as we like going upwind.“The boys are pumped.’’LawConnect is another yacht suited to the upwind sailing and considered a chance of the handicap honours, as is the Marcus Ashley-Jones 70-footer URM.LawConnect, Scallywag and Black Jack, the three 100-footers, are favourites for the line honours. Jim Cooney’s yacht Willow pulled out of the race on Saturday due to a number of positive cases in the crew with the yacht Maverick 49 also making the decision not to race on Christmas Day.This has reduced the 2021 fleet to 92.It is understood other sailors have withdrawn from yachts but been replaced by standby crews.“I’m really confident we have a race on,’’ said CYCA Commodore Noel Cornish.“Normally I’m saying how exciting it will be to watch the boats tussle but for me this year it will be the thrill of seeing that gun fire at 1pm.Cornish said he was not unduly concerned by the 20-30 knot southerly the fleet with bash into after the start.“There might be a few people who see their Christmas pudding for the second time though,’’ he said.NEW RULE FOR SYDNEY TO HOBART FINISH Sydney to Hobart sailors have been told they will not be able to leave their yachts at the end of the 628 nautical miles race until they have produced a negative Covid test.After days at sea, crews will be confined to their yachts until they have all produced a negative Covid test.Race Committee Chairman Lee Goddard on Friday informed skippers and key personnel of the new rule on a virtual and compulsory race briefing ahead of Sunday’s 1pm start.“The Tasmanian government says all crew must do a rapid antigen test when they arrive on the boat,’’ he said.Goddard told sailors they must not get off the boat until the tests are done, all are negative and the skipper has filled in the associated paperwork.“Do not get off the boat until that declaration is made,’’ he said.Crews cannot start the race until they receive a negative result from a test done within 72 hours of the start.Already some teams have had to reshuffle sailors who have been informed they are close contacts of a positive case.SYD-HOB WEATHER: Latest forecast‘IT’S ON’. A YEAR AFTER 2020 CANCELLATION RACE IS OFFICIALLY GOING AHEAD At the race briefing Goddard officially declared the race would be sailed.“It been a lot of hard work but the race is on,” he said.“We are grateful this race will go ahead.’’A fleet of 94 yachts will head to the start on Sunday after the Sydney to Hobart was cancelled for the first time in history in 2020 due to Covid restrictions.WET AND WINDY START TO THE SYDNEY TO HOBARTAn eventful first afternoon and night at sea is forecast for the Sydney to Hobart for crews.Rain, strong winds, some haze and even a thunderstorm at sea are some of the weather conditions sailors were warned to prepare for in the opening stanza of the race.“It looks like a tricky race for navigators,’’ said Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore Noel Cornish.At the race briefing sailors were also given a run down on safety requirements, how to use equipment such as EPIRB’s and the start exclusion zone in effect for race day where the fleet will start off four start lines.Yachts were asked to stay in the exclusion zone away from the spectator fleet.Covid ISSUE FOR SYDNEY TO HOBART WINNERDECEMBER 23: Champion skipper Matt Allen has lost a crew on his overall contender Ichi Ban due to being a close contact to a Covid case just three days before the start of a Sydney to Hobart that has small boats sailors rubbing their hands together in delight.As hundreds of sailors in the race cancelled a year ago due to a Covid outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches joined long lines at testing centres for a required 72 hour negative test, Allen confirmed he has already swapped out one crew from his defending champion boat.“He’s a close contact,’’ said Allen whose prepared for the situation by putting other sailors on standby.It is expected many more boats will have to reshuffled crews as results come in from Thursday’s testing.SMALL BOATS EXCITED BY SYDNEY TO HOBART FORECAST If they manage to get away without Covid hijacking their campaigns, sailors on some of the smallest boats in the fleet – including the fleet minnow Gun Runner – are looking to steal some of the limelight normally firmly focused on the supermaxis and bigger handicap contenders.A forecast for a tough and rugged start to the race followed by tricky and light winds down the east coast of Tasmania for the bigger boats in the fleet has the smaller ones excited.On current forecasting there is a change these fleet backrunners will be pushed home by more favourable winds win, putting them in with a show of dominating the coveted overall honours.“Happy days,’’ said Murray Stewart, the skipper of the 30-foot army entry Gun Runner.“It would be nice if one of the battlers got up.’’Stewart said upwind conditions after the start – which could include rain squalls – won’t faze the boat or his crew of seven.“We are army. We love getting rained on and a bit of a slap around.“We say if it’s not raining, it’s not training.’’Less than a third the size of supermaxis like LawConnect, Scallywag and Black Jack, Gun Runner is used to train army personnel and is a regular racer in the Sydney to Hobart.“The whole sailing program is not to win races. It’s to make better soldiers and we do that by putting them in a stressful and foreign environment,’’ Stewart said.“They need to dig deep and show their qualities of team work and resilience. We do it to get better soldiers.’’MORE STORIES ABOUT THE 2021 SYDNEY TO HOBART # In pictures. The changing face of the Sydney to Hobart viewed through the lens of top sailing photographer Andrea Francolin. FULL STORY #It’s a race which started in 1945 with just nine boats. Now 90 plus will contest the event this year. Sydney to Hobart history, how it works, when it starts and how to follow in our spectator guide. FULL STORY#They are sailing some of the smallest boats in the fleet and will have just one other sailor for company.Meet the craziest sailors in the Sydney to Hobart fleet FULL STORY#He’s an Olympic medallist who lived aboard a yacht when he was a kid.But Jason Waterhouse has never done a Sydney to Hobart.That is about to change with the Rio and Tokyo Olympian now on a major overall contender. FULL STORY #Last year the Sydney to Hobart was cancelled just days before the start.The decision rocked the fleet but came in the wake of an outbreak of Covid on Sydney’s northern beaches. FULL STORYMore from Amanda LulhamHERE



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