Falmouth returns to boating series: 2. Starting with a risk assessment

This week, we’re featuring how some of the many Falmouth clubs have managed to get back on the water safely.
25 Aug 20

The Royal Cornwall Yacht Club (RCYC) used email, its websiteand a weekly digital newsletter to keep in touch with members during lockdown,as well as WhatsApp groups that were set up for the various segments of theclub. Members kept in touch too, helping each other out. They wereall very keen to get out on the water again as restrictions eased, marinas andboatyards opened, and their boats went back onto moorings, but a thorough riskassessment by the club committee concluded that caution was necessary whenit came to racing, despite a certain amount of pressure from members.

However, the club began a socially distanced launch servicevery quickly, making the start of recreational sailing easier formembers whose boats were on moorings. At the outset, there was an on-linebooking system to organise the 15-minute slots. Now membersunderstand the system and remain distanced while they await the launch, theyuse the launch in free-flow mode. Each trip allows two members from thesame household, plus children, at the front, with the bosun at the back. Thelaunch is sanitised between each trip, and the launch service, whichinitially operated six days per week, has been back infull-time operation since 01 August.

In addition to IRC, the Falmouth clubs all use the verysuccessful YTC (Yacht Time Correction) handicap system, developed by a groupincluding RCYC’s Rear Commodore (Sailing), Chris Davis, Tony Hardman from MylorYacht Club and representatives from the other clubs using the system.  

Once the easing of restrictions allowed, RCYC began pursuit races, asChris reports: “We ran five pursuit races over the first five weeks backracing, and then asked members how they wanted to continue – they chose to havea second pursuit racing series, and not fleet racing. That’s probably becausethey can see that the format is working, and fleet racing would make socialdistancing much more difficult, particularly for the committee boat and RIBcrews. At the first race of the second series, we had 16 boats out of an entryof 26, which under the circumstances is very positive.” 

The RCYC clubhouse is still closed, because the grade IIlisted building has too many covid risk points for members, and sadly it wasnecessary to make a number of catering, bar and cleaning staff redundant.However, the club has worked out a one-way system to allow the use of thetoilets, and there is now a marquee on the front lawn, where events can be run,with a test and trace system and social distancing measures inplace. A laundry room has become a servery with a hatch to theoutside, which has allowed some catering to restart in recent weeks. This isgenerally pasties and a bottle of beer or two after racing, but a member who isalso a chef is producing fish and chips and fish pies to order. Unsurprisingly,given the excellent weather over the past weeks, the catering and marquee haveproved very popular after such difficult times.