Barry Rogers is confident that January’s Race Tasmania events will proceed despite a COVID-19 outbreak which has seen the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race cancelled for the first time ever.
This year marks the first that the blue water classic will not go ahead since its inception in 1945 due to the coronavirus outbreak on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, which has prompted Tasmania to reimpose border restrictions.
That area of the New South Wales capital has been officially declared high-risk by the Tasmanian Government and entry from it therefore prohibited, while those from the rest of Greater Sydney must observe quarantine upon arrival in the Apple Isle.
The Sydney Hobart, in which a large number of Northern Beaches residents had been set to compete, would ordinarily commence on Boxing Day while Race Tasmania’s opening event at Symmons Plains is slated to kick off just under a month later, on January 24.
Despite reporting of favourable numbers today, with NSW announcing a halving of new COVID-19 cases to 15, and all linked to the Northern Beaches cluster, multiple states/territories are reintroducing border restrictions.
Garry and Barry Rogers are the men behind Race Tasmania due to their business connections in that state, and while the latter is adopting a wait-and-see approach, he is upbeat on the prospects of it going ahead as planned.
“We’ve just got to see what happens in the next week or so, with the numbers,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“Look, everyone likes to jump to conclusions and panic and all sorts of things, but we don’t see that there’s any risk of it not happening.
“There’s a couple of teams that come out of Sydney and if we need to assist them to come to Melbourne earlier and quarantine or something, if that has to happen, we’ll do that, but I can’t see that there’s any risk on the event.
“It’s a bit different when you talk Sydney to Hobart; every single competitor is coming out of Sydney, and a lot of them from that coastal area, being sailors.
“There’s two TCR teams that come out of Sydney so there shouldn’t be a major impact, I wouldn’t have thought, but let’s just hope it doesn’t get into Victoria, I suppose.”
Race Tasmania is being put on with the support of the state government, with which the Rogers have not yet been in touch regarding the latest COVID-19 developments.
They believe that a decision on the events need not be made until just after Christmas, and will therefore reconsider then.
“Haven’t spoken to them yet,” said Barry about contact with the Tasmanian Government.
“I spoke to Garry this morning and I thought, ‘Just let them be for the week.’ I mean, what’s an answer today won’t be the same answer you get in a week’s time, so best just to leave them be.
“We’ll probably just get through Christmas and just see what’s happening.”
Ironically, the Symmons Plains and Baskerville rounds which form Race Tasmania were slated to be part of a 2020/21 season under the calendar which was redrawn following the Australian outbreak of COVID-19.
Instead, neither TCR Australia nor fellow Australian Racing Group property, the S5000 Championship, saw any racing this year due to state border closures.
The Tasmanian rounds therefore became the first two on the 2021 TCR calendar, and a decision about whether they will proceed largely rests with ARG, of which Barry Rogers is now a sizeable shareholder, rather than the Rogers themselves.
“We’ll do that with ARG,” he explained.
“Obviously, we organise the event. That was more so due to the fact that we do quite a bit of business in Tasmania, we’ve got some good contacts down there, that’s sort of why we got behind it and got it all to happen.
“As much as it’s probably a GRM side of thing in the fact that we got it up and going, it’s an ARG event so it’ll be certainly ARG’s decision, not what Garry and I thought. We have an opinion, of course, but it wouldn’t be our decision.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced the return of a hard border closure to Greater Sydney, while Victoria closed to those from Greater Sydney and the Central Coast at midnight last night.