A great weekend of covid-safe racing

This successful, if trimmed-down, regatta was organised in just three weeks
27 Aug 20

Organised by the Royal Torbay Yacht Club, the Torbay RoyalRegatta is normally a three-day festival of competitive racing over the Augustbank holiday weekend. Given the circumstances this year, there were doubtsabout any event at all, but when restrictions were eased at the end of July, SailingSecretary Bob Penfold decided to try and run a reduced regatta: “We decided togo for two days only, on 22 and 23 August. Part of the purpose of this was to cutthe number of volunteers we needed, because three of our five Race Officers arecurrently shielding, and quite a lot of others who normally operate RIBs arenot able to do so at the moment.

“By sticking to yachts and sportsboats only, we couldminimise the number of support people required out on the water; we had justtwo people mark-laying, distanced on the RIB and wearing face coverings, andthey had to do just one tow-in. We also reduced the number of people on thecommittee boat to five, including one couple, and again, they were alldistanced.”

The organising team ran no registration, so avoiding theneed for people to sit opposite each other, and there was just a limited raceoffice, with reduced hours, all done through the club’s main office with ascreen between participants and those at the desk. Sailing instructions and theNotice of Race included clear referrals to both government and RYA covid-19 onlineguidance.

The weather for the event was good, with gusts of over 25knots on the Saturday. As a result, there was a full weekend of racing, and itwas very competitive, especially in the sportsboat classes. There were eight entriesin the cruiser fleet, following the SWYTC handicap system, eight entries in theIRC yacht fleet, and 11 sportsboats. Some were crewed by family bubbles, whileothers, being larger, were socially distanced and, where necessary, using mitigationsuch as masks according to the guidelines. Participants were largely clubmembers, though there were a few boats from further afield.

Prizegivings were in the terraced garden of the club withpeople well spaced-out and a one-way system. The prestigious Addison Gold Cupwas this year presented for the highest placed yacht with a predominantlyfemale crew (to encourage more female participants) and from four entries inthis category, the winning boat was ‘Hope’. The Torbay Admiral’s Club was for ateam comprising a boat from each class, putting all their points together. Again,there were four entries and the winning team was ‘Fast and Furious’, made up ofwinning boats ‘New Moon II’, ‘Juno’ and ‘Excellent’. Overall winners were PaulCraft ‘Mini Mayhem’ (IRC Class), Steve Birbeck ‘Mildly Moist’(Sportsboats), andJohn Pollard ‘Excellent’ (SB20s) and James Clapham ‘Crikey’ (Cruiser Class).

Prizes were sponsored by Maintain South West (Sportsboats),Westaway Sails (IRC class) and Teign Metal Finishes (Cruiser Class).

Members were very happy with the event, commenting extremelypositively. One crew messaged afterwards: “We had the most amazing weekendsailing. It’s such a treat to see all of you again after such a prolonged timeoff the water. Thank you to everyone involved with the organising for all theirefforts – it’s hugely appreciated, especially with the extra challenges tonavigate this year. Well done!”

The dinghies and juniors have not been forgotten, however,as Bob explains: “Not including them buys us a bit more time in the hope offurther guidance for dinghies. We’re planning to hold a separate event for themon the first weekend of October, so that we can spread our volunteer resourceseffectively.”

More information about getting back on the water   

Visit Royal Torbay Yacht Club

Photos: Jean Border