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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

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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

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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Irish Sailing hopes to have 'more information' early this week on its 'Return to Sailing' document, outlining guidelines for a return to the water as Government COVID-19 guidelines are eased.

In his latest update, dated May 8th, Irish Sailing Chief Executive Harry Hermon now says the government body Sport Ireland has indicated they believe 'sailing will be able to resume in Phase 1 (May 18), subject to the approval of the Irish Sailing plan and the lifting of the Coastguard's current advisory notice'.

So far, the plan has not been published but, as Afloat previously reported, the national governing body has prepared a 'draft document' that it circulated to clubs and classes. It says it is 'a first look' at recommendations for how sailing, windsurfing and powerboating activities may be resumed on a phased basis.

Shore Angling returned at the weekend across the country but boat anglers are subject to Coastguard safety guidelines, which currently recommend avoiding the water for any recreational activities.

The May sunshine, however, brought numerous small craft out at the country's biggest boating centre, Dublin Bay on Saturday. On the water were stand up paddleboards, kayakers and speedboats and a variety of RIBs despite the Coastguard's renewed pleas for recreational users not to go afloat.

Dun Laoghaire Marina, the base for over 500 pleasure craft, has indicated there will be full access to boatowners by May 18th in line with government guidelines.

Cork Harbour Reader Robin Bateman questions the continuation of the 'no recreational use of the water' advisory issued by the Coastguard and the RNLI


It seems to me that Irish Sailing is in a bind regarding its “return to sailing plan”. The government-permitted radius for exercise is at present 5km. We are cautioned to avoid unnecessary journeys which I take to mean anything other than work, medical need or shopping. I suppose it’s reasonable to define checking on your craft as a necessary journey but I’m not sure that as worded it can be extended to actually using your ship. There is little doubt in my mind that exercise on the water for our more performance-orientated sailors could legitimately be considered as essential but we still have the “request” in place from the RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard not to use the water. In fact, the Irish Coast Guard was particularly specific in its Facebook post of the 30th of April when it said;

“Surfing, kite surfing, snorkelling, diving, windsurfing, sailing, are not essential”

I emailed both the RNLI and the Irish Coast Guard on Monday last (the 4th of May) enquiring as to when we might see this “request” lifted. In fairness, the RNLI came back by return and said they would find out for me. The Irish Coast Guard, however, asked me to email the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport press office. I did as suggested but am still awaiting a reply.

Subsequently, the RNLI emailed me again and said;

“The Government have now published a roadmap which details the easing of restrictions over the weeks ahead and which will see people begin to resume their day to day activities while observing the necessary measures in keeping the virus suppressed. We would ask that people adhere to that advice and when they resume any water-based activity, they take the necessary water safety guidance.”

Which seems pretty reasonable of them. So it seems to this County Cork resident (and parent of competitive Laser and Optimist sailors) who has a large body of estuarine water within a 2km radius of his house that the biggest bar to getting out on the water is not the ongoing delay of Irish Sailing to publish their much-mentioned plan for a return to sailing, but the fact that the Irish Coast Guard needs to remember (or be reminded) that the water is not its to control. With government restrictions now being lifted, the Irish Coast Guard needs to rescind or revise its earlier pronouncements.

After all, the lake and river anglers who have been specifically mentioned in Dáil discussion are back on the water albeit within the existing distance limitations. Perhaps I can attach a fishing reel onto our tiller extensions and claim we’re going angling?

Other agencies and public sector employees have had to alter their methodologies of working to cope with the threat of this virus. Considering the significant amount of commercial traffic still at sea that may require assistance it seems that working on safe methods of patient transfer is imperative if adequate cover is to continue. It follows that if you can cope safely with a commercial emergency, it should be feasible to cope with a recreational emergency.

Sadly, the virus is not going away any time soon. Hiding behind an instruction for no recreational use of the water merely kicks the problem further down the line.

Perhaps it is time for the Irish Coast Guard to recognise this and get on with it?

Yours etc.

Rob Bateman
Passage West

The letter writer supplied the following links:

Published in Cork Harbour
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Irish Sailing says it is “seeking clarification” from the Department of Sport as it drafts a plan ahead of the first phase of coronavirus restrictions easing from 18 May.

Chief executive Harry Hermon says the governing body for boating in Ireland wants clarification “on a number of issues”.

This follows the announcement last Friday 1 May of a roadmap for the phased easing of restrictions that have seen sailing and most other outdoor sports and pastimes on pause since mid March.

“Careful consideration must go into the plan as we have a wide number of different stakeholder groups requiring scenarios to cope with social distancing regulations,” said Hermon today (Tuesday 5 May).

“We anticipate that we will have this draft plan to discuss with clubs, centres and members towards the end of this week.”

It has come to the attention of Irish Sailing that an email is circulating, seeking funds to support Covid-19 front line workers and is purporting to be from Irish Sailing’s President.

Please be advised this has NOT come from 'Irish Sailing' or 'David O'Brien' and if you receive such an email it should be ignored.

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Umpiring is the subject of Irish Sailing’s latest webinar via Zoom, this Saturday 2 May.

Delivered by international umpires Cxema Pico and Chris Lindsay, the three-hour course from 10am is for anyone interested in team racing and becoming an umpire or coach, or simply for anyone looking to develop their knowledge of sailing rules.

Book your place in this Saturday’s webinar for just €1 with Irish Sailing HERE.

Published in ISA

Since the Covid-19 shutdown commenced, Irish Sailing has been communicating on behalf of our members with various government stakeholders to present a case for our sport to be viewed as a ‘low risk’ activity, so that we will be allowed to return to sailing as quickly and safely as possible as restrictions start to be lifted. We believe that with appropriate measures, a basic level of safe and responsible activity can be delivered to get our members active on the water.

To this end, we submitted a proposal to Sport Ireland (the Government’s agency coordinating a return to sport activities) outlining protocols and priorities in a “Return to Sailing Scheme” document. As our members know, it is a fundamental principle of sailing that the decision to go afloat both for individuals and activity organisers is based on a combination of self-responsibility and risk assessment. The Return to Sailing Scheme proposed by Irish Sailing extends these principles to include the mitigation of Covid 19 risks to allow individuals and activity organisers make informed decisions on their own interests and activities.

Irish Sailing believes that limited activities can take place even within current guidelines, however, there are some measures that were included in our submission for the lifting of restrictions that we feel would significantly facilitate boating activities. These include:

  • Irish Sailing Clubs and Accredited Training Centres allowed to organise activities in compliance with National guidelines
  • Social gatherings of two (or more) households permitted to enable double handed sailing
  • 2km limit for exercise extended to allow travel to the venue
  • Public marinas and boat maintenance facilities open to allow essential access, lifting and maintenance
  • Over 70s who are currently cocooning allowed access to their boats to facilitate their health and well being
  • Access for boat owners to maintain their craft and minimise damage of facilities and property in case of storm or bad weather

Whilst there is currently much media coverage around the lifting of restrictions, and an announcement to be made in the coming days which is causing some confusion and speculation, Irish Sailing can only respond to official announcements, and we will communicate any options for returning to sailing activities as and when they are announced.

At this challenging time for all, Irish Sailing is focused on getting our members active on the water as soon as is safely possible. Members will be first to hear when this possible.

Harry Hermon, CEO, Irish Sailing

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Yesterday marked my first month as President of Irish Sailing.

My election as President came about in the most surreal of circumstances, at an AGM on 21st March attended only by Jack Roy as outgoing President and Harry Hermon as CEO, and my election being completed with the aid of proxy votes formally sent in by clubs. Since then the country has gone into a much more restrictive mode with all unnecessary travel and all sporting activities cancelled, including access to the water, marinas and clubhouses.

I am in lockdown in Crosshaven. My usual walking route draws me to the RCYC clubhouse and its marina, as well as past the other two marinas and three boatyards in the village. It is heartbreaking in this glorious weather to see the marinas and boatyards devoid of human activity, when we would expect feverish scraping, sanding, painting, the sound of drills whirring and motors churning up the water. Instead nothing – only flat water sparkling and the sounds of seagulls fishing.

My own boat was antifouled, engine serviced, and back in the water by St Patrick’s Day. But thereafter it has bobbed gently, tied to the marina with not even the engine turned over. This frustration I know is replicated by sailors all around the country.

Harry Hermon and the team at Irish Sailing are operating behind closed doors and working remotely. They continue to provide a continued service to facilitate an immediate resumption of the sport and at present, the team are drawing up proposals for Sport Ireland outlining how we could adapt activities and return to the water as quickly as possible. We will keep you updated.

A few weeks ago, I joined Harry and the team in a series of video conferences with Commodores and other officers representing 37 clubs to update them on a number of current issues, and this proved an efficient and well-appreciated modus operandi that can and will be easily and regularly repeated.

Likewise, the new Board will be holding our first meeting by video conference next week. This video technology has suddenly mushroomed all around us and opens up an enormous opportunity for people to engage remotely, and actively participate in committees, without the need to have to drive long distances to do so, especially in winter or dark wet evenings. We will be doing much more of this in months and years to come to the benefit of everyone.

The Irish Sailing website holds much information on the current pandemic here, with regular updates posted there and sent out by email to Clubs and members. In addition, there are a number of shore-based activities on the site to occupy and challenge the mind here. We have also invested in the Irish eSailing National Championship to get us sailing from the couch here

Hopefully, May 5th will give us all some comfort and indication as to the rest of the season. Meanwhile, stay safe and continue to follow the guidelines.

Published in ISA
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Irish Sailing is hosting a free racing results webinar this coming Saturday 25 April from 10am.

Hosted by Ian Bowring and Dara Totterdell via the video conferencing platform Zoom, the three-hour webinar is designed to help you:

  • become fully confident in setting up a results office;
  • gather all the information you need to produce good results;
  • learn how to use Sailwave results software; and
  • stand proud in front of a full clean set of results within a short time of the race finish.

To register for this free seminar, email [email protected]

Published in ISA
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Marine Science Perhaps it is the work of the Irish research vessel RV Celtic Explorer out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of marine research, development and sustainable management, through which Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. From Wavebob Ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration these pages document the work of Irish marine science and how Irish scientists have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.


At A Glance – Ocean Facts

  • 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by the ocean
  • The ocean is responsible for the water cycle, which affects our weather
  • The ocean absorbs 30% of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity
  • The real map of Ireland has a seabed territory ten times the size of its land area
  • The ocean is the support system of our planet.
  • Over half of the oxygen we breathe was produced in the ocean
  • The global market for seaweed is valued at approximately €5.4 billion
  • · Coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems in the world — at 230 million years
  • 1.9 million people live within 5km of the coast in Ireland
  • Ocean waters hold nearly 20 million tons of gold. If we could mine all of the gold from the ocean, we would have enough to give every person on earth 9lbs of the precious metal!
  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world – Ireland is ranked 7th largest aquaculture producer in the EU
  • The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest ocean in the world, covering 20% of the earth’s surface. Out of all the oceans, the Atlantic Ocean is the saltiest
  • The Pacific Ocean is the largest ocean in the world. It’s bigger than all the continents put together
  • Ireland is surrounded by some of the most productive fishing grounds in Europe, with Irish commercial fish landings worth around €200 million annually
  • 97% of the earth’s water is in the ocean
  • The ocean provides the greatest amount of the world’s protein consumed by humans
  • Plastic affects 700 species in the oceans from plankton to whales.
  • Only 10% of the oceans have been explored.
  • 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year, equal to dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • 12 humans have walked on the moon but only 3 humans have been to the deepest part of the ocean.

(Ref: Marine Institute)

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