“If somebody was to get hurt on a boat then they would require Tasmanian citizens to provide assistance … some sort of rescue organisation would need to come out and assist the boat and depending on what the issue was we might need to transfer crew into Tasmania.
“We just felt that that was an exposure to Tasmania.”
Cornish said organisers also considered postponing the race until early next year, but ultimately found it difficult to predict when it could eventually go ahead.
They also considered running a race down the coast of NSW, but many skippers declined.
“There are arrangements within Sydney Harbour itself and similar arrangements … down in Hobart as well,” he said.
“It’s a massive logistics exercise to run. If was like a weather event that would postpone the race for and it was like two or three days then we could have done that. But we would have been postponing it for an indefinite period.”
On Saturday night, the Tasmanian government announced that anyone who travelled to Tasmania from the remainder of the Greater Sydney area, other than the northern beaches area, would have to quarantine for 14 days from arrival. Only essential workers from the northern beaches are being permitted.
With about 150 Sydney to Hobart sailors living in the area, the announcement proved too much of an operational nightmare, as staff from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia would be unable to isolate in time to run the race from Hobart.
“It just became impossible,” Cornish said. “There’s a tremendous amount of preparation, and money and time expended to put this on.
“Having been a boat owner myself who has invested many years in going in this race it [the amount of money spent getting race ready] is not insignificant.”
InfoTrack skipper Christian Beck said he had spent around $250,000 getting his boat ready for this year’s race, with competitor Black Jack likely spending more after bringing his boat in from Monaco.
“It’s not cheap to prepare for the race,” he said. “We do financially do bad out of the race being cancelled.”
Beck said, according to weather predictions, his race favourite would have taken the race out in a record time.
Crew member Tony Mutter, who skippered InfoTrack earlier this month to take out the Big Boat Challenge, is from New Zealand and will need to quarantine for two weeks upon his return.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of drowning [of sorrows] over beers over the next few days,” Beck said. “But when I think about it it’s pretty hard to whinge about not getting to do a yacht race when there are people dying around the world.”
Black Jack skipper Mark Bradford, who is from the northern beaches, said the crew had rushed to find replacement members in recent days.
“We were having a laugh going, wouldn’t it be funny if we won one without me after 11 years,” he said. “But I looked at it like we were a football team and you’re in in the grand final week; if twist your ankle, we’ll find a replacement.”
Chutzpah owner Bruce Taylor was meant to contest his 40th Sydney to Hobart this year but said the sailing community as a whole had been accepting of the CYCA’s decision.
“We’re all getting old, that’s our problem,” he said.
“It’s a significant amount of money … but I suspect we’ll be back next year if if the bank balance and the medical practitioners allow it.”
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.