As lockdown slowly begins to ease we know many clubs already have measures in place to begin to begin a safe return to the water.

We spoke to Spinnaker Sailing Club, based in the New Forest, Hampshire, about how their club developed a return to boating strategy using the guidance available and hear their top tips for other clubs now who may be at the point of starting this process.

Is a strategy important?

The club has already seen the benefits of putting a ‘return to boating’ strategy together. As Chief Instructor James Oborne explains: “It is hugely important to put a return to boating strategy together. With the current situation in the UK, clubs need to be ready to react to the changes in what is allowed. By having a strategy and supporting documentation in place we were able to reopen our grounds at 10am on Wednesday 13 May. This was hugely appreciated by our members and has meant we could immediately start preparing for the next phase of recovery.”

One of the main benefits of putting a strategy together is that it has focused the club’s thoughts on what it wants to achieve and how. It has also allowed the club to keep members informed of what is likely to happen and what is being working on. James adds: “With our planning it has allowed us to focus our efforts on what our members want and on what is achievable.”

First steps

The first step that Spinnaker Sailing Club took was to identify who was best placed to help. A small team consisting of the Chief Instructor, Sailing Secretary and Commodore naturally came together to do much of the initial thinking and working. As thoughts evolved the team then shared these with the wider committees for input, feedback and approval where it meant changing what was currently on offer.

How?

Spinnaker’s strategy started off informally with discussions between James, the team and several committee members. James recommends that each club should identify what is permitted and what can be done easily, and then build up adding more activity or services as you go. As its essential that clubs check what they are allowed to do.

Is it easy?

James believes that putting Spinnaker’s strategy together was fairly easy: “You can make it as in depth or as simple as you want to, depending on your club and your background. There are plenty of clubs now operating with plans in place, and many are happy to share their experience and work as guidance to those clubs that need some extra help.”

“One of the main benefits of having a strategy is that everyone knows what we are aiming to achieve and working together.”

 

 Is the guidance useful?

Spinnaker Sailing Club found the RYA guidance on restarting boating activity helpful when confirming their own interpretation of Guidance from The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and Sport England.

It was useful when it came to thinking about how sanitising products and procedures would work. The club also hadn’t previously thought about how to address the difficulty of how to sanitise buoyancy aids effectively. The RYA Guidance also highlighted to Spinnaker that they needed to address the environmental impact of any sanitising solution the club uses.

Links to other bodies guidance came in useful and the club also makes the most of the free online weekly Club Development Forums, which James believes are great for sharing ideas. He explains: “The more people talk, and the more ideas that are shared the better. The RYA see what many locations are doing and can offer ideas of what else is being done or who else to talk to.”

Implementing changes

Spinnaker Sailing Club believes that having a strategy gives clubs a starting point for this. “Our strategy is a “living document” constantly changing as new guidelines and requirements are introduced or relaxed and as we discover new and better ways of working. Ours has been amended every couple of weeks as we see the Government’s strategy implemented and new guidance, such as groups of 6 being permitted is introduced.” James stated.

Spinnaker’s top tip for clubs who haven’t started yet

Get started! As James illustrates: “Our members have hugely appreciated being kept informed about what is happening, but also by being able to offer something we have retained our members interest in sailing, when they could of discovered new hobbies which are allowed, look at the recent increase in cycling.”

“Don’t think about how you did things before and how to change that. Develop new ways of working from scratch to give yourself the freedom to think and develop your ideas. Focus on the goal, be that recreational sailing, delivering training or racing and think of how to get there now.”

And finally:

“Talk to those clubs that are open already. See what works for them. Most are happy to share advice and guidance.”

Resources for your club

The RYA has developed a vast array of guidance to help clubs prepare for a safe return to the water. These resources will ensure that boaters can return to activities on the water as quickly and safely as possible. To help clubs work through the guidance, the RYA has created the following tools which can be downloaded and applied to each individual club: