HELLS GATES 38 TO RUN AS PLANNED DESPITE BORDER CLOSURE
As the organizer of the Shaw and Partners Hell Gates 38, there was one variable that always stood out to Chris Price as his biggest challenge.
This week Queensland, along with the rest of Australia’s states and territories, slammed its borders shut to residents of New South Wales in response to Sydney’s COVID outbreak.
It’s highly unlikely they will reopen before the inaugural running of the race on July 17.
“It’s unbelievably challenging,” Price admits.
“You take a lot of risks putting on an event in normal circumstances, but this just doubles it.
“It’s really frustrating having to deal with so many variables that are out of your control… especially given Dean [Gardiner] and the team put so much time into the series and our team puts so much time into this event.
“But that’s the reality of the environment we’re in.”
The Shaw and Partners Hells Gates 38 will proceed as planned.
The decision has the full support of sponsors and it will retain Australian Ocean Racing Series points, despite some elite athletes now being unable to compete.
After the work that Price and his team have put into getting the event to this point, he says postponement isn’t a viable option.
“No, there’s no consideration to that.” He says.
“Whilst it would be great if we knew a forthcoming date that was going to be clear of travel restrictions, we certainly wouldn’t want to inconvenience the paddlers who have already committed to coming to race.
“We’re really grateful for their support, so no – any alternative than 100% going ahead with the race is not an option.”
Despite the logistical hurdle, excitement is soaring for the first ever running of the race.
On July 17, competitors will race from Mooloolaba to Noosa on Queensland’s picturesque Sunshine Coast.
Even with the absence of New South Wales athletes, the race will feature all-star lineup including Cory Hill, Michael Booth, Mackenzie Hynard and Danielle McKenzie.
“It’s really encouraging to see that and the chatter that I’m aware of is really exciting.” Price says.
“We hope it’s going to be a crackerjack race.”