Fears Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race could be postponed due to smoke


Billingham said that while they “hope not to” postpone the race, the possibility was being given thought following the unprecedented abandonment of the Big Boat Challenge.

“We don’t yet have the long-term weather that’s reliable enough to sort of make a decision or even expect what it might be on Boxing Day, but that’s part of our planning of the next week or two, to see what we need to do,” Billingham said.

The thick smoke obscures Sydney’s Opera House and Harbour Bridge.Credit:James Brickwood

Billingham also said the team has also had to consider the possibility of the race being cancelled altogether.

“We will always listen to the authorities,” Mr Billingham said regarding the chances of the race being cancelled. “We have a really experienced race committee that’s in there who will make that decision.

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“They make the recommendation to me and then ultimately I have to make the call, which is not a call I wanted to make today [for the Big Boat Challenge] for sure.”

The Big Boat Challenge was called off on Tuesday following low visibility, with fears a smaller boat on the Harbour could be hit by one of the supermaxis. The cancellation of the race was a huge setback for Wild Oats XI, whose crew had raced to repair the famous yacht in time for the pre-Sydney to Hobart sprint around the harbour.

Organisers looked at postponing the event, but forecasters said the smoke was unlikely to fade until later in the evening.

“The view was for the safety of our competitors, but more importantly the spectator craft out there; it would be irresponsible for us to run the race today,” Billingham said on Tuesday.



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