Clubs across the North East are using eSailing to keep their members engaged during the Coronavirus lockdown, providing a valuable tool to keep in touch and continue racing.
Among the clubs which have so far signed up for the Virtual Regatta game to run their racing online are Filey Sailing Club, Sunderland Yacht Club and South Shields Sailing Club.
While individuals can play for free, many clubs also took advantage of a limited period offer through the RYA to gain a free 12-month VIP pass to run their own races within the game.
For those that did miss out on the offer, you can still organise races for members, squads, friends or other groups by subscribing to a Virtual Regatta VIP pass for around €9.99 for a month. This allows groups to run unlimited races for up to 20 people at a time.
Filey SC has already run its Sunday club racing using Virtual Regatta, announcing the times via Facebook, and is also now looking to run its usual Wednesday evening race as well using the digital online platform. Fifteen members seized the opportunity to sign up, practise in the game’s ‘sailing school’ and then race against their fellow club sailors.
James Whitehead, club member and RYA Senior Instructor, said using Virtual Regatta had “gone down very well with our members and given us some fun during these difficult times.”
He added: “On a personal note my two boys 10 and 8 have been playing it which has got them off Fortnite! Everyone is also learning a lot about sailing rules and probably quicker because it isn’t a long leg – you’re at the windward mark in minutes and someone might be on the inside or it’s a port/starboard or a windward boat, and it’s bringing it all home.
“I’m not massively techy but I thought it was really good. The core of most clubs is still racing and people have that need for a bit of competition. This game provides that and it’s also a level playing field for all ages – it seems to be quite accurate and it’s quite addictive!”
An unexpected added bonus for the club is that some members who now live further afield like university students have been online and enjoying the opportunity to race with the club again.
At South Shields Sailing Club, members have been combining club races on Virtual Regatta with live video chat using Zoom, which allows meetings of up to 100 participants for up to 40 minutes for free. For added club racing authenticity, many members have been wearing their sailing kit and buoyancy aids!
For an added level of competition, the RYA has also announced a new RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship that will allow sailors a chance to compete for the title of not only RYA eSailing Regional Spring Club Champion but also RYA eSailing Spring Club National Champion. To take part, clubs need to register via www.rya.org.uk/go/esailing by 10 April 2020.
For those who want to find out more or practise their skills in between club racing, the game is free to play for individuals and easy to access. Simply visit Virtual Regatta from a laptop or PC or download the app on a smartphone or iPad, and click ‘play now’ on either the inshore or offshore game. If you want to compete and keep your score, create a login and a user profile.
For individual players, the RYA is also partnering with World Sailing and Virtual Regatta for the GBR eSailing National Championship 2020, offering an opportunity to race against friends, fellow sailors and real-world Olympic champions.
To find out more visit the RYA Guide to e-Sailing which includes details for individuals, clubs, class associations and groups - plus 'how-to' videos with handy tips.