Sydney Hobart Yacht Race a return to normal, supports "entire industry"

Sydney Hobart Yacht Race a return to normal, supports "entire industry"

The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race may be one of Australia's great Boxing Day traditions, but news that the 2020 race has been give the official all clear will hearten the country's extensive boat building industry.

The official opening of Tasmania's borders to NSW this Friday removed any doubts over the venerable event.

Entries in the world-renowned 628-nautical-mile race, organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), officially closed on 29 October with 100 boats looking to head south.

Sydney Hobart veteran and author Rob Mundle said the race was more than an event for the well-heeled.

He said holding the race would also be a big signal to Australia that the country was returning to normal post-pandemic.

"It supports an entire industry when you look at the boat building, the sail making and all the technology that goes into a competitive boat," he said.

"The race is the pinnacle of its kind in Australia and the world and, just like with motor racing, there's an entire industry around it that the race supports.

"If you want to win it you need to be at the top of the technology game."

Mundle said Maritimo yachts founder and owner Bill Barry-Cotter (pictured) was a great example of those flow-on benefits.

"He bought and imported a 54ft yacht from the USA and it is undergoing a complete rebuild on the Gold Coast so he can enter the race."

Tourism operators would also benefit from the decision he said,

"I've been covering the race for 50 years and the first year I went out in a little speedboat for the Daily Mirror and we nearly sank because there were so many boats there.

"It's like State of Origin where you're right on edge of play and get that feeling of excitement and drama.

"Having it on will be a big step back to normal for the whole country."

CYCA commodore Noel Cornish said the club was thrilled to have so many yachts participating this year.

"Particularly given the general uncertainty and necessary restrictions placed on many sporting events in Australia over the past six months," he said.

"While 2020 has been a very difficult year for all Australians due to the impact of COVID-19, we feel that it is important for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and the sailing world to help support the various Governments goals to assist economic recovery and help communities return to some sense of normality within strict health and safety guidelines."

Updated at 5:06pm AEDT on 4 November 2020.

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