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Sydney to Hobart yacht race: wave of late withdrawals as Covid and injuries hit crews | Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

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A wave of late fleet withdrawals from Sydney to Hobart continued, with two boats withdrawing on the morning of the start of the race.

Jiang Hui Lin, owner of the two-handed boat Min River, pulled his boat out after injuring his hand.

The protagonist also withdrew on Sunday morning after reporting a positive Covid-19 test. Two boats pulled out on Christmas Day.

The Volvo Open 70 Willow boat has been withdrawn after three crew members returned a positive Covid test.

Quentin Stewart, the owner of the 46-foot Maverick 49, which is affiliated with the Guernsey Yacht Club, has not reported any positive Covid tests but has chosen not to take any risks during the current virus outbreak and has withdrawn.

The fleet is now reduced to 89, the boats are expected to leave Sydney Harbor at 1 p.m. (AEDT).

Once in Hobart, crew members will not be able to leave their boat until they have undergone a rapid antigen test and the owner has completed a statement that everyone on board has returned a negative result.

Hearing the gunshot will be the sweetest sound for race officials and at least one prominent boater, who has been devastated, broken and hollow by the cancellation of the 2020 edition.

Maritimo skipper Michael Spies, who will compete in the race for the 44th time, said he spent last Christmas moping at home after the race was canceled for the first time in its history, which dates back to 1945.

“When an Eastern Time came on I was home in Queensland and I don’t mind admitting it was quite devastating, probably even worse, upsetting,” said Spies.

“It’s something that has been such an important part of your life and losing it through no fault of your own or just outside forces.

“I’m sure I’m not the only one who gave everything to participate in the race. It was a very, very, very hollow feeling.

“The sound I want to hear is the gunshot, so we’ll believe it.”

Noel Cornish, the commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, will also be happy and relieved once the fleet sets sail for Hobart.

“People have asked me often over the past month or so, ‘What are you looking forward to the most? Cornish said.

“In a normal year I would certainly have talked about the competitiveness of the fleet, watching these people go through weather transitions, how mariners outdo each other, and then watching the boats go up the Derwent.

“But for me, this time it’s hearing that cannon go off at one o’clock and watching the ships heading for Hobart.”

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