THEY called it several months ago for the Cape Aquathon, now another leg of the Bass Coast Summer Series, the time-honoured San Remo Channel Challenge, has been cancelled.

And it was the recent outbreaks of COVID-19 in Melbourne’s south east, principally from the Smile Buffalo Thai restaurant in Black Rock, spreading to regional areas, which sunk the popular event

The board of the Woolamai Beach Surf Life Saving Club (WBSLSC), in conjunction with the Channel Challenge organising committee, has taken the decision to cancel the 2021 Channel Challenge.

Ron Nicholson, spokesperson for the committee is reported to have said the latest outbreak “highlighted the fact that COVID-19 is still very much with us”.

He added that two of the event’s regular organisers had been directly caught up by the latest restrictions.

“The WBSLSC is an organisation whose key purpose is to protect members of the community and keep them from harm and the risk of the event being responsible for bringing an outbreak of COVID-19 into the San Remo and Phillip Island Community did not sit well with members of the club,” Ron said.

The protocols around running a public event like the Channel Challenge is also an issue for the organisers.

“There was a cap on how many competitors could be in each wave and in the transition area at the one time; all spectators’ contact details were supposed to be collected; the drink station at the finish also had a cap of 100 who had to be socially distanced with family and friends kept away,” he said.

Race marshals may also have had to wear PPE protection.

It was a bridge too far for the group this year, so they have reluctantly called it off.

Another issue was the potential for financial loss if they went ahead and ultimately called it off closer to the time.

But they have promised to return the event, COVID-willing, in 2022… get into training for your best time ever!!

The Cape Aquathon will be back again in 2022.

It’s likely now that the whole Bass Coast Summer Series will have to be called off.