Recognition 2020 Strangford Lough Yacht Club volunteers pull together to ensure members can return to water safely

14 Dec 20

Theclub had originally been due to have its Opening Day at the beginning of Maybut with restrictions in place this wasn’t possible. Instead, the club’s mostdedicated volunteers set about getting safety measures in place for wheneverthey could open.

Some of the first measures SLYC putinto place were hand sanitising stations throughout the club and its grounds.In the early stages a slipway booking system was implemented so that the club couldcontrol how many individuals were in the club grounds at any one time. 

Communication with members was keyand there was frequent guidance issued by the club. 

Acraning team spent a lot of time overseeing the craning in of over 30 boats,this meant that by late May and early June, many members and their familieswere able to safely enjoy cruising on Strangford Lough.

InJuly, restrictions were eased further and sailing training was permitted – avery important part of the club. Committee members and instructors worked hardto ensure the club was in a position to safely deliversailing courses, giving younger people (both members and non-members) theopportunity to take part in water activities in a safe environment whiledeveloping their sailing skills.

Club Racing also commenced in July,with representatives from all classes getting on the water, providing a muchneeded sense of normality in very uncertain times.

September saw the return of SLYC’s most popular sailing series, the Frostie.Sailors from all across Strangford Lough eagerly travelled to Whiterock to takepart in this annual series. With over 40 boats entered, it was one of thelargest entries the club had ever seen and with strict safety procedures inplace, it was also one of the most successful.

As the Frostie series came to an end,Covid restrictions came back into play. The craning team were once againworking around the clock and in difficult weather conditions, ensuring thatevery boat was successfully recovered.

Jack Kennedy, from Strangford LoughSailing Club, said: “As soon as we were aware that Covid was going to affect things atthe club, we took action straight away to get measures in place. We deployed handsanitising stations throughout the club and its grounds and in the early stageswe implemented a Slipway Booking System so we could control how manyindividuals were in the club grounds at any one time. We also communicated withmembers frequently about restrictions and how guidelines should be followed.  

“Looking back at this year, despiteconstantly changing restrictions, SLYC delivered a very popular sailing event,training, club racing and cruising to its members and visitors. This was as aresult of a fantastic team effort from both the Commodore’s Committee and thegeneral membership of the Club.

“Despite the uncertainty that we all found ourselves in, thedetermination of many individuals was phenomenal and humbling. One of the mostfantastic things about this sporting activity is the volunteers it has. So manyindividuals give both their time and expertise and this year it was needed evenmore.

“At SLYC, we hope that 2021 brings more normality and that we are able to befully functional again, hosting sailing events, social events, club racing andtraining.”

Richard Honeyford, Chief OperatingOfficer of RYA Northern Ireland, said: “Volunteers at SLYC worked extremelyhard to ensure that all measures were taken to ensure the club was safe formembers to return to the club and the water. While it has been a particularlydifficult time for everyone in our sailing and boating community, it is bothheart-warming and inspiring to see the dedication and innovative ways ourvolunteers work.

“I commend SLYC for their efforts andwish them luck for the year ahead.”