Falmouth returns to boating series: 4. Junior sail training

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

St Mawes Sailing Club has very vibrant Junior Sail Training(JST) section that involves a group of very keen and capable youngsters whosail throughout the year and have coaching with an instructor. The main focus,as soon as watersports were given the go-ahead late in May, was to give theseyoungsters something to help their mental and emotional wellbeing.

The club followed all RYA advice and guidelines and alldecisions about going back on the water had to go through both the sailing andthe general (now also covid) committee.

Having put together a very thorough risk assessment for theinsurers and the RYA, Rear Commodore (Sailing) Delia Hazell and the committeesdecided that because many of the youngsters have their own boats, they couldbegin family-led activities on the water, sailing alone or with a sibling. Boatswere carefully spaced out on the quay, the youngsters had to arrive ready-dressedand rig and derig the boats themselves, and while hand sanitiser was available,no toilets were open. The next step was to extend the JST to allow the use ofclub boats, which had to be sanitised and rested between uses, and that got moreyoungsters out on the water.

Monitoring compliance and running safety boat cover

Many of the boats at St Mawes SC are owned by couples,making a pursuit series possible for single household or support bubble crews.The club initially put in very stringent covid restrictions, including whitesails, all sailing from the cockpit (no foredeck work), a reduced windallowance, and life jackets to be worn at all times. These rules were monitoredclosely, and if Delia, the Race Officer or the safety boat driver noticed any infractions,sailors were disqualified. Policing, however, became very difficult, soeventually the club put the responsibility back on the skippers, who mustconform to government regulations and RYA guidelines in the best interests oftheir crew. In addition, the club’s long-standing policy for its three well-equippedsafety boats is that they have to be double-manned. The committees agreed toamend this to allow single-manning as long as the covid restrictions are inplace.

Delia admits it has all been “a bit of a nightmare” but thingsare looking positive: “We got permission for our Junior Race Week to go aheadstarting on 17 August. It’s usually 50 boats and a whole week of sailingactivities in a very social way for juniors. This year there were restrictions– no beginners, no prizegiving, no barbecue on the beach, but it did go ahead despite Storm Ellen. Wemanaged two days' racing with six races in all. Remarkably, we managed toget 66 sailors afloat in 33 boats, a mix of RS200s, Fevas, Lasers, Hartleys andPicos. And it’s a lot better than nothing.”