A week is a long time in this post-COVID world.

Five days ago, organisers of the Shaw and Partners Hells Gates 38 were preparing to push on with the inaugural running of the race on July 17, despite the Sydney region being placed into lockdown, ruling out dozens of competitors.

However, with that COVID outbreak now spreading across Australia, triggering similar stay-at-home orders and state border closures as a result, they have been forced into cancel the event for 2021.

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

“It’s really unfortunate, but we thought it was better to make the call earlier rather than later given the large number of interstate competitors intending to come up.” Race director Chris Price says.

“I feel really disappointed for everyone who has set this as an objective for the season and done all of the hard work but aren’t going to get the opportunity to fulfil the achievement that goes with paddling that distance.

“Not to mention just enjoying the Sunshine Coast and the Noosa experience that goes with it.

“To draw an example, the Gold Coast marathon was due to be held this weekend but was cancelled last night.

“The disappointment for participants in that event who have been inconvenienced with travel plans and accommodation and everything else, we wouldn’t want Hells Gates competitors to endure the same level of frustration.”

It’s a decision Price was desperate to avoid making, having explored a number of alternate dates.

Ultimately, none were viable.

“That was our first priority of course, but after recognizing and respecting the other events on the Australian Ocean Racing Series, there wasn’t anything that was going to fit without compromising one or the other dates that might have been available.

“If we chose to push it back, given the way things are currently, there’s no certainty a similar situation wouldn’t happen then either.”

The Perfect Boat for any Paddler

It’s a cruel outcome for an event that was riding a groundswell of excitement in Australia.

But Price says Dean Gardiner and the Australian Ocean Racing Series along with Earl Evans, co-CEO of major sponsor Shaw and Partners Financial Services have both indicated their support for next year – meaing the Hells Gates 38 will return in 2022.

“I’m super excited about picking up from where we got up to in our 2021 attempt,” Price says.

“It’s really exciting and it highlights one of the cool things about our sport at the moment, which is the growth.

“There’s a great opportunity for us with different interests in the sport to keep growing it and make it something even bigger and cooler than it already is.”

Competitors will receive a full entry refund.

The next race on the Australian Ocean Racing Series will now be the SA Ocean Paddling Race in Adelaide on August 28.

For more information on the Shaw and Partners Hells Gates 38, including entry fee refunds, click here.