PLANS FOR NEW RACE WEEK LOCATION AFTER CANCELLATION OF ‘THE DOCTOR’
The Doctor has been cancelled amid a surge in COVID-19 cases within Australia – but there is hope the Race Week can run in a new location.
The state borders to Western Australia remain closed to all domestic travellers and are unlikely to open any time soon, in the face of an escalating second wave.
The state of Victoria has today recorded a new high of 532 daily cases and that number has consistently been around or above 400 for more than a fortnight, throwing any plans for relaxed travel restrictions within the country into chaos.
Western Australia has now gone weeks without recording any new community transmissions and its government has taken a hard-line border approach to keep it that way, leaving race organiser Dean Gardiner with little choice.
“To not have the event there after running it every year since 2002 – and one year running it twice – is really disappointing,” he says.
“But I totally understand why they are doing it, they’re in the perfect situation now and maybe the best situation in the world.”
Rather than give up, organisers are now hoping to run the $200,000 event in regional New South Wales.
This new Race Week would run from Friday November 20 to Monday November 23, culminating with Sydney’s iconic 20 Beaches, held on a rescheduled date of November 28.
No specific locations have been publicly named, but The Paddler understands Forster on the state’s mid-north coast is the number one target.
Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour also have the accommodation infrastructure to be options.
“We’re committed to trying to get something to happen,” Gardiner says.
“We don’t know if we can pull this off, but that’s what we want to do.
“We’re hoping to have South Australia, Queensland and possibly Tasmania all be able to travel for this event.
“I think we can still get the same numbers just from New South Wales and Queensland based athletes, especially leading into 20 Beaches.”
Any NSW Race Week would follow the structure of the WA event.
The invitational ironperson race set to debut in Perth will still be held, as will the Dash For Cash, two short downwind races and a longer downwind feature race.
It’s understood the Dash For Cash would run on the same day as one of the short downwind races.
Athletes would then have five days off to either return home or head directly to Sydney for 20 Beaches.
Organisers are yet to open dialogue with any local governments about hosting the Race Week but that will commence as soon as possible, spruiking the economic boost that it would provide.
“We’re starting from stage one again, to be honest,” Gardiner says.
“There’s a whole bunch of stuff that needs to happen.”
If they can get the required approvals, then the Race Week will still be a ground-breaking spectacle.
In a reassuring announcement for the sport’s elite athletes, the total prize money would actually be raised even higher to $230,000 given the inclusion of 20 Beaches.
And it may not just be a one-off.
The northern New South Wales coast has a proud paddling history but is largely starved of any competitive racing.
If the proposed NSW Race Week can successfully go ahead, Gardiner believes it could become an annual occurrence.
“We already know the WA Race Week can become a huge success, now we might be able to do the same in New South Wales,” he says.
“Something good might be able to come out of this.”