Falmouth returns to boating series: 5. Preparing for next year

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

Helford River Sailing Club (HRSC) had a particularly badtime when lockdown hit, because the club computer crashed. With no-oneavailable to come out and fix it, the committee was unable to email its membersand had to rely on social media, the club website and the help of the Port ofFalmouth Sailing Association to try and keep in touch with members.

However, as Chris Hosken, Rear Commodore Sailing, reports, thecommittee members met through Zoom meetings and between them they attended manyof the RYA online club forums: “This meant that when, eventually, we managed toget our database from the cloud to our new computer system, we were in a goodposition to begin opening up the club safely. Following guidelines carefully, weinstalled a lot of signage and sanitisers at all touch points, including theclub balcony, which we opened with carefully distanced tables so that peoplecould bring picnics. All facilities were closed until the beginning of August.”

The first sailing sessions involved individuals or familybubbles cruising socially around the marks, until the Race Officer was able tostart formal racing, which now averages six to eight boats, still in familybubbles.

In July, the club bar was reopened, with just one member ofstaff and a glass screen, and one person in the kitchen. Food is ordered at thebar and collected from a hatch, and both food and drink are served indisposable containers, something Chris regrets: “It’s not environmentallyfriendly but obviously it’s safer, and we had a lot of disposable items leftover from previous events, so we’ve not had to purchase any as yet.”

Adult sailing sessions normally use the club’s fleet ofWayfarers. To make this possible, HRSC set up a WhatsApp group for memberswishing to sail as families or bubbles, and also opened it up for them to usethe club’s single-handed Fusions, Pico and Lasers. This enabled them to planusage, and quarantine each numbered boat for the required 72-hour period.

Chris adds: “The dinghy sailors are now racing each weekusing one of the club RIBs as a patrol boat rather than a rescue boat. We are alittle more aware of conditions at this time - our aim is to prevent the needof a rescue boat so we’re managing to keep all participants distant, but it’s stillin the vicinity if absolutely needed.”

The club finally ran its first junior training session inthe middle of August, when again family bubbles were sailing double-handers,and it worked well. Now at each session, the separate groups line up on the slipway,each taking and rigging their own boats on the beach, and there are four orfive rescue boats, all manned by family bubbles or individuals. At the end ofthe session, they pull their boats up onto the slipway, where the instructors takeover, hosing down and quarantining the boats for a week in the boat park.

Chris explains how important it is to have done somethingfor the juniors: “We didn’t want to write off the season for them altogether. Andthey all came down, having not sailed for 11 months, and did everything wewanted them to do!  Junior trainingusually finishes at the end of August when the schools go back, but we’re thinkingof going into September a bit this year. We’ve got some catching up to do toget juniors qualified as AIs but we have a good training programme in place, sohopefully next year will be much more positive.”

The club is definitely in a better situation now. As well asthe new computer system, they installed CCTV and a gate to improve securityduring the lockdown. With these, plus the website, social media and juniortraining programme, they’re very well placed to make up next season for what theymissed.