Bushfire smoke on Sydney Harbour forced the cancellation of the Big Boat Challenge. Pic: Andrea Francolini.
Bushfire smoke on Sydney Harbour forced the cancellation of the Big Boat Challenge. Pic: Andrea Francolini.

Sydney-Hobart pre-race canned due to smoke

HEAVY bushfire smoke blanketing Sydney forced the cancellation of the annual SOLAS Big Boat Challenge on Sydney Harbour on Tuesday.

Early morning visibility was radically reduced across Sydney by the thick smoke haze, which was causing health issues and hazardous air conditions.

As the morning wore on the smoke continued to thicken, forcing organisers of the Sydney to Hobart pre-race to cancel the running of the Big Boat Challenge for the first time.

"It's just like a pea-souper,'' said InfoTrack sailing master Brad Kellett off the supermaxi.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia commodore Paul Billingham said the race was abandoned for the safety of spectators, public and competitors.

Smoke blanketed Sydney Harbour on Tuesday. Picture: Andrea Francolini.
Smoke blanketed Sydney Harbour on Tuesday. Picture: Andrea Francolini.

"The best available information is that nothing about the conditions will change in the short term so delaying the start wasn't an option,'' Billingham said..

"Our thoughts, of course, are with those worst-affected by the bushfires - and those fighting the fires across the state."

The race was to mark the racing return of Wild Oats XI, which sustained major damage to its mast and deck in a stormy race last month.

Bushfire smoke was affecting Sydney from early morning. Picture Andrea Francolini
Bushfire smoke was affecting Sydney from early morning. Picture Andrea Francolini

It was also to have been the first time supermaxis Wild Oats XI, Scallywag, InfoTrack and Black Jack lined up in one race since the 2018 last Sydney to Hobart

"It is an absolute shocker,'' said sailing coach Mike Fletcher.

"You can barely see anything.

"If you are on the water you can't see land at all.

"And all the ferries have their fog horns blowing.''

Supermaxi Scallywag on Sydney Harbour after the racing was cancelled. Picture: Andrea Francolini
Supermaxi Scallywag on Sydney Harbour after the racing was cancelled. Picture: Andrea Francolini
News Corp Australia


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