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RYA Northern Ireland has updated its guidance for boaters following recent announcements by the NI Executive.

Sport Northern Ireland officials confirmed that the sport sector remains in Step 2 of the Roadmap to Recovery until further announcements.

The situation in Northern Ireland is summarised as follows:

  • Groups of up to 10 who do not share a household are permitted to take part in socially distanced outdoor activity. Recent announcements regarding increased group gathering sizes does not apply to outdoor activity, which remains at 10.
  • Indoor facilities are to remain closed with the exception of restricted access to small shared facilities, eg storage area/toilet/through-ways. These are disinfected regularly with sanitation products available.
  • Elite athletes are permitted to train indoors.
  • Bars/restaurants in registered clubs will now be able to open alongside the hospitality sector. The NI Executive, at its meeting on 2 July, agreed to the restricted opening of restaurants and bars in private members’ clubs on 3 July. Guidance is available on the Tourism NI website. The Chief Scientific Adviser in Northern Ireland has also advised that a register of those present is kept on the premises. This will assist in contact tracing if necessary.
  • Overnight stays onboard can take place with the easing of restrictions on second homes from 26 June.
  • Social distancing remains at two metres unless you use mitigating measures, which could allow a reduction to a minimum of one metre. The NI Executive has reiterated that two metres remains the optimum. RYANI has updated Step 2 Guidance with this change and considerations for smaller craft.

RYANI chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said it “welcomes an outline timetable going forward that includes competitive sport potentially resuming from 17 July”.

He added: “This will have potential restrictions on numbers able to undertake activity at that time and facility access remains a key consideration on what may be delivered.”

The governing body for sailing in Northern Ireland has issued ongoing updates to clubs, training centres and engagement through its webinar forums.

Questions remain over more specific elements, however, and RYANI says it will continue to raise these with the Sports’ Expert Panel and working alongside the joint watersports group. This includes matters such as changing room access and guidance.

Full updated guidance and FAQs can be found on the RYANI’s Return to Boating webpage.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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RYA Northern Ireland has released guidance for boaters after a Sport Northern Ireland update confirmed that outdoor activity has moved into Step 2 out of coronavirus lockdown.

However, this is limited to outdoors only and indoor activity/advice remains as it was in Step 1 until further announcements.

The Sport Northern Ireland update highlighted that:

  • Groups of up to 10 are now permitted to take part in socially distanced outdoor training.
  • No relaxation of restrictions is yet in place for indoor activity and as a result no indoor sports activity is permitted at this time.
  • Resumption of outdoor sporting activity at Step 2 is entirely conditional on robust protocols being in place, communicated, fully understood and complied with by all participants. We would therefore urge a cautious approach.

Under the Northern Ireland Executive’s Pathway to Recovery, the following is therefore permitted:

  • Outdoor activities involving small groups of less than 10 people during which it may be difficult to maintain social distancing but where contacts are brief (less than10 minutes).

RYANI has since updated and issued its Guidance for Step 2 and considerations of activity that could now take place.

The governing body continues to urge boaters to take a conservative approach to activities and to follow all public health advice in order to best help eliminate Covid-19. Guidance for access to indoors remains in Step 1 until subsequent announcements.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Newcastle Yacht Club’s Luke McIlwaine has claimed fifth spot in the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship after battling it out against nine other competitors.

The other sailors came from right across the regional and home countries. Instead of taking to the water, this time they logged on to compete against their fellow racers virtually, in a series of five races with two discards.

With live commentary from Yachts & Yachting’s Mark Jardine and RYA Pathway coach Johnny McGovern, who himself competed in the eSailing Lockdown Cup and was part of the winning ‘Splashes’ team, racing was extremely tight throughout the championship final.

A total of 2,932 sailors, from 178 different clubs from across the RYA regions and the home countries, took part in the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship, competing in club and regional championships before whittling down to just 10 finalists.

McIlwaine earned his spot in the final with his win in the Northern Ireland regional event last month.

RYA Northern Ireland’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “eSailing has been a fantastic way for our sailors to keep in touch and continue developing their race skills over the last few months while we were unable to get out on the water.

“Luke put in an impressive performance and we are delighted with his success.”

If you missed the action, you can still catch it on the RYA YouTube channel.

Next on the RYA’s eSailing calendar is the Spring Class Championship. For more visit www.rya.org.uk/go/esailing

The RYANI says it continues to support the Northern Ireland Executive’s guidance on coronavirus lockdown measures.

It comes after the weekend announcement by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson easing lockdown restrictions in England only.

The announcement, which followed the Republic of Ireland’s own roadmap towards the restart of economic and leisure activities, included water sports that could resume under certain conditions.

In a statement, the RYANI’s chief operating officer said the NI Executive’s most recent position on Thursday 7 May “outlined no further changes to the current regulations”.

“We must await the publication of any further guidance of the Executive’s ‘plan for a phased, strategic approach to recovery’,” Richard Honeyford said. “The next statutory review of the Regulations will take place before 30 May.”

Honeyford added that the RYANI will continue to support the NI government guidance on the lockdown “as long as necessary to combat the pandemic”.

However, he added that the organisation “believes there is a clear case for boating (sailing, windsurfing, power boating, etc) to be able to resume as part of any easing of restrictions” while following social distancing protocols.

“We have seen the boating community acting in a responsible and patient manner throughout this period. As the national governing body, we urge all members of the boating community in Northern Ireland to continue to do so until instructed otherwise.” he said.

While clubs and training centres in England will be receiving guidance based upon UK Government advice, the RYANI will issue such guidance “only once a full assessment of any future NI Executive recovery plan is made”.

Honeyford added: “RYANI is very aware, that people are eager to get back on the water, but this can only take place once the implications of any modification the current lockdown restrictions have been assessed.

“For now all clubs, centres and participants must continue to follow the current Public Health Agency advice in Northern Ireland to Stay At Home, Keep Your Distance, Wash Your Hands.

“We look forward to the time that restrictions are eased and we can safely return to the water.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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The RYA Northern Ireland has welcomed the announcement of a £500,000 Hardship Fund for the sports sector in Northern Ireland.

As announced last Tuesday 14 April by Stormont Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, sports clubs and sporting organisations from the voluntary and community sector, which are unable to receive support from other Covid-19 mitigation funds, will be able to apply to Sport NI for a small grant of £2,000.

This is intended to help with immediate financial commitments to maintain their facilities during the current restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Affiliated clubs may be eligible for a grant to help cover fixed costs, which are no longer supported with revenue as a result of the pandemic. This might cover expenditure on rent/lease payments, heating and lighting, essential ground maintenance and insurance.

There is currently no ‘closing date’ for this grant scheme which is operating on a rolling basis.

RYANI’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “We very much welcome this funding in order to help affiliated clubs/organisations with the ongoing financial obligations during the coronavirus outbreak and whilst restrictions remain in place.

“We have been updating all affiliates in Northern Ireland on developments and will continue to share the latest information and advice with our clubs. We remain in close contact with Sport NI and other relevant bodies about the issues being faced by clubs during the current crisis and to ensure they are included in any future considerations.

“We would encourage all clubs/organisations to familiarise themselves with the guidance in order to make any application and to contact us if you are in need of support.”

The RYA has prepared guidance to assist clubs, classes and recognised training centres in line with advice from the UK Government and public health agencies.

British boaters are being encouraged to support their local boating networks wherever possible during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

As Boating Business reports, the RYA is asking people to think again before cancelling payments to sailing clubs, marinas, class associations and other marine-related bodies to support them through the lockdown period.

“During these hugely challenging times people are looking at where they can cut costs,” said RYA sport development manager Alistair Dickson.

“However, we would urge boaters to think carefully about whether they need to cancel direct debits, subscriptions or other payments as many organisations will be depending on this support to them through this difficult period.”

In Northern Ireland, the RYANI says it will “endeavour to keep meaningful engagement with all clubs and organisations” as it briefs Stormont on the challenges facing the NI boating community and calls for inclusion in Executive support packages.

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The RYA Northern Ireland says it is keeping developments regarding the COVID-19 virus in Northern Ireland “under close review”.

In a statement, the RYANI says it “will follow the guidelines set by the Northern Ireland Assembly and UK Government, and the advice provided by Public Health Agency Northern Ireland”.

“This continues to be a developing situation and RYA Northern Ireland will keep local clubs and centres fully informed of any changes.”

The RYA website is updated with its latest advice on Covid-19, which includes specific advice for affiliated clubs and Training Centres. The RYA will also update affiliated clubs via the RYA Club Room newsletter if and when this advice changes materially. Updates on the situation will also be provided via the RYA Wavelength newsletter.

As earlier reported on Afloat.ie, yesterday (Sunday 15 March) Irish Sailing called for “all organised sailing activity to cease with immediate effect” subject to review on Sunday 29 March, based on Government advice on social distancing and mass gatherings.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Instructors from clubs across Northern Ireland have met to discuss some of the biggest issues in sailing.

The event, which was held at RYANI’s HQ at Sketrick House in Newtownards, attracted over 50 attendees.

On the day there were workshops workshops for power, sailing, racing and navigation.

The day also included a consultation session on the Royal Yachting Association’s work in Northern Ireland, giving instructors a chance to express their views and feedback.

Mary Martin, RYANI’s development officer, said: “We’ve had great feedback from the day and it was a real success.

“Some of the highlights for attendees were a workshop on mental health and a chance to catch up with old and new acquaintances.”

The Instructors’ Day event runs annually and delivers continuous professional development for RYA instructors, coaches and centre principals. It is part of a UK-wide programme with the same goals.

Lyon Watersports, providers of windsurfing and other watersports kit, also attended the event, giving instructors a chance to learn more about what the company offers.

This event was generously supported by Gallagher, which provides bespoke insurance solutions to clubs, centres and instructors.

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The RYA Northern Ireland is looking to recruit a Performance Manager to lead on the performance aspects of its strategy and support racing development in Northern Ireland.

To support this ambition, the Performance Manager will:

  • Be responsible for the ongoing evolution of strong and sustainable performance pathway within Northern Ireland;
  • Work as part of the RYA British Youth Sailing team to deliver the UK wide remit of ‘developing the best young racing sailors in the world’; and
  • Ensure NI athletes have access to the best support programmes locally in order to help them perform on the international stage.

The successful applicant will be expected to perform the following tasks (not limited to this list):

  • Manage RYA Northern Ireland’s performance programme investment;
  • Work with colleagues within RYA, RYANI and with key stakeholders to secure and develop investment in high performance activity;
  • Oversee the delivery of the Open Pathway Training, Youth Performance Programme and Performance Academy, working closely with Performance Academy sailors and ensuring appropriate guidance and support is given;
  • Work closely with High Performance athletes to develop individualised programmes and to meet SportNI Sporting Winners objectives.

If you would like to join a dynamic team and help develop sailing in Northern Ireland, RYANI wants to hear from you.

The closing date for applications is noon on Thursday 12 March, with interviews expected to take place in late March. Full details and how to apply can be found at the RYANI website HERE.

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The RYANI is calling on sailing clubs across Northern Ireland to bid to become host of the 2020 Women on Water Festival.

Following the success of the first-ever Women on Water Festival at Strangford Lough Yacht Club as part of the 2019 programme, the RYANI has announced that the next festival will take place this summer.

Active clubs co-ordinator Lisa McCaffrey says: “We were delighted with the success of last year’s Women on Water Festival and are looking forward to another great weekend in summer 2020.

“We hope to run the festival in June, which will allow participants to continue boating at their local club throughout the summer. This will also provide an opportunity for clubs to gain new members.

Lisa says the Women on Water programme, which was launched in 2016, “is a fantastic programme to get more females out on the water trying different water based activities”.

She adds: “The festival brought females from all experiences, from first-timers to lifelong participants, and allowed them to try out five different activities including dinghy sailing, yachting, powerboating, stand up paddleboarding.

“There were also informative workshops which allowed the participants to gain more knowledge about our sport and Northern Ireland’s waters.”

Clubs looking to host the 2020 WOW festival are now being invited to complete the expression of interest form by Friday 28 February. For more information contact [email protected] or call 07788238083.

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