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It is with great reluctance that Irish Sailing have decided, along with hosts the National Yacht Club, to cancel the Women at the Helm regatta that had been set to take place later this month, writes Gail McAllister.

Despite the tremendous energy behind the event, the health and safety of sailors is our number one priority, and in the light of the ongoing Covid-19 situation and the complexities arising from this it became clear that the event could not go ahead.

Irish Sailing are extremely disappointed for yet another event to be lost to Covid this year, but now look forward to next year and the Women at the Helm in Royal Cork Yacht Club on the weekend of Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th September 2021.

On a personal note, I would like to thank everyone for their incredible support and enthusiasm for Women at the Helm as an event and the Take the Helm campaign to encourage more women to move into positions of leadership. The campaign goes beyond the race course and creates leaders on committees, instructor teams and management.

A group of volunteer race officials have worked together to create a guidance document to help in planning and implementing safe and happy sailing events for the season ahead.

Irish Sailing has now published these guidelines, with details on planning, timelines, risk assessment and other considerations and controls for running both major national and smaller local events during the coronavirus pandemic.

This is an active working document and will be updated as Government guidelines changes throughout this pandemic. See the current full guidance document (as of 8 July 2020) attached below.

Irish Sailing has issued it latest guidance document to take into account the easing of Covid-19 restrictions announced by Government last week, and which come into effect from Monday 29 June. (Downloadable below)

Essentially, there is little change in the transition from Phase 3 to 4, so this plan is likely to direct how our sports will be organised for the foreseeable future.

As Afloat reported here, the plan also outlines how a proposed pod system in order to facilitate racing that begins again under phase 3.

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This event has now been cancelled over continued concerns surrounding Covid-19. For more see HERE.

The National Yacht Club has confirmed that its planned hosting of the Irish Sailing Women at the Helm National Regatta will go ahead as scheduled on 29-30 August.

Organisers are planning for a safe social and sailing environment and working within the Irish Sailing and Government guidelines to ensure the safety of all participants and volunteers, as well as the local community.

CANCELKLEDThe success of last year’s inaugural event at the NYC “shows what a great opportunity the regatta is to showcase the strength and leadership of women in sport and their ability to adapt in a changing environment”, the club said.

Women at the Helm aims to encourage women to move from shore to boat, crew to helm and club to regional event and generally to take on leadership roles in sailing.

The event is open to PY dinghy and keelboat racing from teens to seniors. Men are welcome to participate but crews must be at least 50% female and all boats must be helmed by women.

Expression of interest registration is now open, and sailors and volunteers can register their interest in helming, crewing, chartering or volunteering. The Notice of Race will be available shortly.

Published in National YC

Irish Sailing has congratulated its Academy athlete Tom Higgins, who has received one of the prestigious Ad Astra Elite Sports Scholarships from UCD.

Nearly 400 school-leavers applied for the 15 Ad Astra Scholarship programme places.

The programme looks for “exceptional, high-achieving students” and allows them to study for their degree alongside the pursuit of their sporting goals, with both financial aid and additional supports such as academic mentoring and calendar rescheduling.

It means the athlete, who sails the Laser Radial out of the Royal St George, can balance big competitive events alongside college work without either suffering.

Higgins has completed his studies in Gonzaga College and is awaiting his predicted Leaving Certificate grades. He hopes to pursue a degree in the areas of business, commerce or law.

“The last three months have been strange,” he said. “When the schools first closed, I continued to hit the books, but obviously that all changed.”

He’s been training with the Irish Sailing Team on the water in Dun Laoghaire, and joins them in the video calls for strength and conditioning, cycling sessions and coaching classes.

He’s now looking ahead to the autumn: “We’ve got graduation in September, so I still feel connected with school. Then college starts, and I have the Laser Radial Youth European Championships in Hyeres [in France] at the end of October. It’ll be busy!”

Published in Youth Sailing

Irish Sailing is waiting to hear back from the Government's Sport Expert Group to see if mixed household crew (in a pod system) and using regular crew with effective contact tracing as the mitigating factor will be allowed.

Irish Sailing has submitted the proposal for Phase 3 & 4 of the Return to Sailing Scheme and hopes to have a response early next week, along with an indication of the Government’s revised latest Roadmap.

Summer Camps

Although Government guidelines for organising children’s summer camps have been published it hasn’t specifically addressed any relaxation of social distancing measures.

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Irish Sailing president — and National Race Officer — David O’Brien will present an online Local Race Officer Course starting Monday evening 8 June.

The course runs on two nights, Monday 8 and Monday 15 June from 6pm to 9pm, and is open to anyone (aged 16 and over) interested in how racing and committee boats work and would like to know more about becoming a recognised race officer.

The course will be delivered by the Zoom platform and costs just €10. For booking details see HERE.

Published in ISA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has announced that plans to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions are being accelerated and the country will move to 'Phase 2 Plus' on Monday 8th June.

Irish Sailing, as the national governing body for the sport, has issued its “Phase 2 Return to Sailing Scheme” and it is available to download below.

The Phase 2 Scheme begins on Monday and outlines the measures to be put in place to ensure a safe return to the water, and also includes an updated Risk Assessment and FAQs document.

As regular Afloat readers will know, the sailing season got underway over the last few weeks with many boats now back in the water. Yacht racing, however, is not expected to resume until Phase 3 and only then among single-handers or members of the same household sailing together on the same boat.

Download the Return to Sailing Scheme phase 2 below.

Published in ISA
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The Government have established an ‘Expert Group’ with representatives from the Department, Sport Ireland and Sporting Bodies to help with consistency in the approach for returning to sport. Irish Sailing is now working with this group for clarity around the lifting of restrictions as we transition through the phases.

Sport Ireland has suggested that each organisation should appoint a COVID 19 Officer to help establish protocols for preventing the spread of the virus, and who would be Irish Sailing’s main point of contact in this area. To date, we have been communicating directly with sailing club Commodores and Centre Principles for the distribution of COVID 19 information, and unless any organisation provides details of a specific COVID 19 Officer, we will continue to liaise with the commodore/centre principle on COVID 19 matters.

The Expert Group have informed us that information and clarity around the Phases 2-5 will be published on a “phase by phase basis as the public health situation evolves over time”. The main changes in the Governments Phase 2 roadmap for sport relates to:

the Travel Restrictions being extended from 5km to 20km – although questions have been asked, it is unlikely that any exceptions will be made for sporting clubs.
the restrictions on group size participating (currently 4 people in Phase 1) are being increased to include “team sports training in small groups (but not matches)”. While a final definition on ‘small groups’ is not yet available, for planning purposes sports are recommended to use up to 10 participants at this point.
Social distancing will still be in place for sport throughout phase 2.

We will continue to provide updates as soon as any information becomes available.

Safe Sailing and Sail Smart

Harry Hermon
CEO

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Harry Hermon, Irish Sailing Chief Executive, has published the "Return to Sailing” Scheme today (May 12 2020). The PDF document is downloadable below.

The CEO says: 

The Phase 1 Guidelines from the “Return to Sailing” Scheme are designed to support clubs, centres and members to put measures in place that will allow the safe return to our sports on a gradual basis, subject to the lifting of the Coastguard’s current advisory notice.

The Return to Sailing Scheme Phase 1 includes three sections:

1. 4 x fundamental principles that will affect the decision to go afloat:

  • Compliance with current COVID 19 restrictions
  • Personal responsibility – for your own safety and compliance
  • Self-help - alternative means of safely returning to shore
  • Risk Assessment – assisting the decision-making process

2. Guidelines for a safe return to our sports in Phase 1 (starting on 18 May)

3. A Risk Assessment template for organisations.

Other supports will be published soon, including a FAQ section on our website, and a “Safety Testing” document which will give more practical tips on safely returning to your boat.

The government also published their own Return to Work protocol which we will be referencing https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Return-to-Work-Safely-Protocol.html

We continue to work with Sport Ireland on guidelines for Phase 2 and beyond, with the hope that travel restrictions may be reviewed, and multi-household groups be allowed to convene.

In the meantime, by working together and using these Phase 1 principles and guidelines sensibly and responsibly, we can make sure that our return to the water is safe for all.

Harry Hermon, CEO, Irish Sailing

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago

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