Flushing Sailing Club, a charitable organisation whichoperates out of a small 1960s hut overlooking the Harbour, was coming to theend of a major fundraising campaign for a new clubhouse when lockdown began.With work scheduled to begin this summer, and the last of the money still to befound, it was essential that the trustees and management committee didn’t losemomentum. The management committee met (online) fortnightly to keep abreast ofthe covid situation and sent out an email newsletter to the 200 members aftereach meeting. The newsletters included fundraising news, as well as the lateston the guidance, and items to entertain people in lockdown – and as a result,people did donate, and many also renewed their membership during that period.
As the lifting of restrictions began, the club’s sailing secretarieswere keen to get some racing underway, using information and guidance from the RYAonline forums, as well as health and safety advice gleaned from local business.When the RYA agreement with DCMS about crewing boats was published, they understoodthat there could be no club boats, so they started off in a very limited way,running a pursuit racing series that complied with the guidance. Sailing was withinfamilies/households and two people stood ashore to record times. Until the endof July, this operated without a launch to get sailors to their boats – andeven now, only one bubble or household group can be transported at once.
The old clubhouse, which could only accommodate 60 beforethe crisis, became very strictly limited, as acting Commodore Gaye Slaterexplains: “We have strict controls over use of the toilets, with possibleoverkill on signage! We brought in a card reader for contactless payments and aone-way system for people to get takeaway bottles and pasties from the perspex-screenedbar. In early August, our caterer came back in with plated food served out onthe quay.”
Remarkably, the club ismanaging well financially, benefiting from the card payment technology, the effortsto get back on the water safely and community involvement with the rebuildingprogramme that will provide a clubhouse that’s attractive to other organisationswhen not being used for sailing. “All this has actually reinvigorated the club,”says Gaye. “It’s now a can-do, rather than a ticking along club! We’re seizingthis opportunity as a declaration of confidence in sailing, a regeneration thatjust happens to coincide with the virus, and we’re being very positive.”