Spring is nearly here and the light at the end of the Covid tunnel is getting brighter. Following Boris Johnson’s announcement of the “Roadmap” to ending the lockdown last Monday we would like to share with you the Club’s plans for restarting sailing, both racing and cruising, for the 2021 season. As this is written the RYA’s guidance on what can be done and when, has just been issued. A link to this guidance can be found at the end of this.
The Current Situation
At this time the clubhouse is closed to all members. All the Bar and Galley staff are laid off under the Government furlough scheme as are some of the office staff. All the yard staff are working to make sure the club boats are fully maintained and ready for the forthcoming season. They are also checking your boats, both in the car park and on moorings, to make sure there are no problems so rest assured your boat is not coming to harm while you are forced to be apart. Under the current regulations and the RYA’s guidance, it is not considered that working on your boat is permissible exercise or recreation.
When Can You Launch Your Boat?
This is a very good question and the answer is, “as soon as you are ready”. In line with guidance received, this will not be before 29th March. The yard staff are ready to go and the planned mooring maintenance is complete for this year. We are hoping that by Easter you will all be able to get down to the car park and get your boats ready to go. It will be a busy few weeks making up for lost time. While we recognise that most people will probably not be ready to launch on their planned date, we would encourage you to launch as soon as possible to make the most of the new season. Please confirm and book your launch date as soon as possible.
When Can You Start Racing?
The Sailing Committee has been working hard over the winter and a full program of races is planned for both the cruisers and one designs. One design racing is planned to start on Saturday 17th April. By then the Bar and Galley should be open, but serving food and drink outside only, so wrap up warm if you are coming down to watch the racing. In an exciting development for the club we now have been joined by a small fleet of Musto Skiffs and Lasers to join our existing Wayfarers, so even in these times the Club’s dinghy racing is expanding. The keelboats are also keen to get out of their winter homes and back in the water so we hope to see the usual Dragons, Squibs and Sonatas ready to go. The Cruisers are starting racing a bit later this year to allow you more time to get ready and for Ross to replace the wheels on the bottom of Mercury’s keel. The Cruiser Spring Series will start on Sunday 2nd May for three classes which will start from Committee Boat if there are sufficient entries, otherwise we will use the club line, which should be interesting. Please submit your entry for this free series as soon as you can so we can gauge numbers.
What About Cruising?
The Cruiser Class has been busy putting together a planned itinerary of cruises in company. For the less adventurous, or just plain rusty there is the monthly trip to the fleshpots of Queenborough or for the more adventurous there are two longer cruises in company being planned. The first starting in June, will be along the south coast while the second, planned for August is for a trip up the east coast as far as Lowestoft. Of course, the nature of cruising is to be off on your own so we expect many of you will just be exploring as soon as you are allowed. Technically you can go for day sails now as long as you live near where your boat is moored or launched.
What Sailing Events are Planned at the Club for 2021?
We do have a full year of sailing planned but the big events are the Regatta on 28th to 31st May, the Marathon on 19th June and the Wayfarer National and European Championships on 5th to 8th August. The Organising Committees for both the Regatta and the Wayfarer Championships have spent many hours planning to ensure the events go off without a hitch while adhering to any restrictions that may be in place at the time.
When Will the Clubhouse Open?
From the Government Roadmap it looks like the Clubhouse cannot open until May 17th but the bar and galley should be able to open to serve food and drink outside from 12th April. Let’s all pray for a warm April. Now we have some dates to aim for the House Committee will be meeting to organise new Covid safe social events for this year. Watch this space for more details.
What Happens Next?
We are waiting for the RYA to issue their guidance for clubs. They are waiting for Government to clarify some points on the roadmap but expect to be able to issue their guidance in the next few days. Once we have all the guidance, we will study it and see what we can expect to be able to do at each stage. The Flag Officers and the Covid Team will then produce a detailed plan of action for how we intend to run the 2021 sailing season. Any plan will be dependant on the Government easing restrictions based on the continuing success of the vaccination program so any dates may slip, but we do hope not.
Remember that although things are looking brighter, we are still in lockdown so obey the rules to stay safe and stop the spread of the virus even after you have had a vaccination. This should be the beginning of the end so we can all look forward to a full sailing season in 2021.
Link to RYA guidance:
Covid FAQs in England from 5 Jan 2021.pdf (rya.org.uk)