Strangford Sailing Club members return safely to boating

03 Aug 20

He explains the measures the Club took and how they've been able to ensure safety for their members as they get back on the water.

When did the clubclose?

On24 March, a notice was sent out to members letting them know that the StrangfordSailing Club Committee was planning for a Covid-19 driven 2020 season.  All our members were encouraged to follow theUK Prime Minister advice and stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel. That alsomeant staying away from the sailing club. 

Inline with further Government guidance, we formally closed the club on the 4April. Members were advised not to access the site or use any of thefacilities. 

SSCVirtual Regatta Sailing was started on 11 May to keep some of the adults andchildren occupied during the lockdown period. We ran three sessions per week!  

How long was the clubclosed for?

Theclub was closed for two months and the SSC Committee agreed that prior toactivities restarting SSC must await and comply with guidance issued by;

•NI Executive


•National Trust (our landlord)

•SSC Committee 

TheNational Trust started their restrictedopening on the 3 June and SSC followed suit with our first Junior Sailingsession starting on Tuesday 9 June. 

How did you go aboutre-opening?

ACovid-19 subcommittee reviewed how we could safely operate and re-open based ongovernment recommendations.  Email, phonecalls and audio conferencing proved invaluable in keeping everyone informed. 

What precautions didyou take?

Toensure that we could adhere to distancing and hygiene rules SSC adopted a "Sailand Go Home' philosophy. Essentially sailors arrive and go home in theirsailing gear thus avoiding the use Clubhouse. The clubhouse is closed exceptfor the use of the toilets.

Precautionsalso included reducing the size of sailing groups. For example, the juniorsection was split into fleets with the parents being responsible for the coordinationand training of each group. For our multi-hander fleets such as the flyingfifteen and the safety boats we have followed the principle of family pairings.With small group sizes,  furlough and noschool our sailors have benefitted greatly from being able to be flexible; choosingappropriate days when the weather is best suited to the ability of the sailor. 

Wealso issued documents to members outlining all of our advice and guidelines. Theseincluded a ‘Back to Sailing Activities’ document and ‘a Juniors – Covid-19Operations’ document. To help the younger members we also made a video whichsimply illustrated all the distancing and hygiene protocols (credit must go toLeon Coole for his hard work on the video). 


How have membersreacted to the club being re-opened?

Iam very proud at how Strangford Sailing Club and its members have respondedduring the lockdown and the gradual lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions. 

Membershave volunteered to assist with running sailing sessions. The Club has beenable to facilitate sailing for small groups of sailors, while maintainingsocial distancing.

SSChave enough parental support to get our Junior sailors out on the water twice aweek and we plan to alternate skills training and race training each weekthroughout the summer.

Membershave been very supportive and accept the fact that changing rooms and showersare out of bounds. Everyone has accepted the need to social distance andlargely adhere to the issued guidance. 

What is now availableat the club?

Organisedsailing sessions are scheduled for five times per week. 

  • Flying Fifteen / RS400 racing is scheduled for Wednesday evening and Saturday afternoons
  • Laser racing is scheduled for Sundays and they are welcome to join FF fleet
  • Topper Sailing Groups are scheduled for Tuesday and Friday evenings
  • Super Starters in pico, topper and optimists sail on an ad-hoc basis 

Would you have anyadvice for other clubs who have not yet re-opened?

Embracethe challenge and make positive changes. Now is the time to recruit assistancefrom members and junior parents. Everyone working together as a team will help toallow sailing to restart. I would suggest that members are asked to help withsafety cover, launching, rigging, trolleys, race officer etc.  

Someof the other sailing clubs on the lough have followed suit to start theirjunior sailing using our template.

Iam sure social activities will resume in the near future, but currently we willbe complying with the current guidelines and restrictions to keep everyonesafe.