The Australian Ocean Racing Series has been cancelled for 2020, with organisers set to make a formal announcement in the coming days.

Despite being forced to call off The Doctor, WA Race Week and the season-opening Gold Coast Classic due to COVID-19 restrictions, there were hopes the national series would still go ahead in some form.

Organisers had also begun talks to hold the $200,000 Race Week in New South Wales.

But series director Dean Gardiner revealed to The Paddler’s Pod with Sam & Macca that those plans have now been abandoned.

“It’s just not a flattering way to run an event for ourselves and it’s not a flattering way to run an event for our sponsors,” he says.

“With the goalposts moving all the time on COVID rules, the lack of exposure that sponsors would get from an event in this environment just doesn’t make it worthwhile.

“In our races, roughly 3% of our field will walk away with a cheque in their pocket. The other 97% are in there to have fun.

“People will do the race and then have to walk straight off the beach and that’s the last we’ll see of them… that’s not what surfski is about.”

It’s a somewhat expected outcome, but one Gardiner hoped we wouldn’t have to reach.

“Initially it was really, really tough.

“It was tough for me emotionally to push the button, but over time it’s been made easier by the fact we simply couldn’t do it.”

Shaw and Partners WA Race Week

There are some positives to the series’ cancellation.

In The Paddler’s Pod episode that will be released on Monday, Gardiner also revealed that the sponsorship agreement with Shaw and Partners has been extended by a year, due to no races being held.

It’s also likely that the AORS will fall into a calendar year format, rather than the current timeframe which extends over summer.

This would see February’s Bridge to Beach become the first event of the series, instead of the last, while 20 Beaches would become the final race.

“It’s something I’ve thought about a fair bit and how we can make that work,” Gardiner says.

“To wind the series up in December I think might be a fantastic way to do it and it kind of makes sense too because after 20 Beaches everyone slots into party mode anyway.

“Obviously there’s winter, but it doesn’t really affect anything because most of us are doing the same thing year-in, year-out.

The full wide-ranging interview with Dean Gardiner headlines episode five of ‘The Paddler’s Pod with Sam & Macca’ is out on Monday August 31.