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Return to Sailing? Government Seeks Information on Covid 19 Challenges Faced By Sport

17th April 2020
A Professor of international health and tropical medicine has said that single-handed sailing could return 'very soon' while the government asked sporting NGBs this week for information on what challenges are faced in returning to sport A Professor of international health and tropical medicine has said that single-handed sailing could return 'very soon' while the government asked sporting NGBs this week for information on what challenges are faced in returning to sport

Government is seeking input from sports bodies – including sailing – as to how a 'gradual and controlled' return to activities can be achieved.

Yesterday, the Taoiseach told the Dáil that the Government would like to set out a roadmap before 5 May on how the COVID-19 restrictions might be eased.

Leo Varadkar said that this would be done on the understanding that the plan could change and steps could be reversed.

At the same time, the 2020 sailing fixtures is being redrafted by yacht clubs around the coast in anticipation of a resumption sometime this summer.

Already single-handed sailing could return 'relatively soon', according to experts, but does anyone know what sailing in Coronavirus Ireland will be like in 2020?

There is going to be a 'new normal' in society, and the Government expects the practice of social distancing will be with us until we find a COVID-19 vaccine.

It could be over a year or more before a vaccine is widely available and before people begin to feel safe again.

"what will sailing in Coronavirus Ireland be like in 2020?"

But we are moving into the next phase of co-existing with the virus and a key task for the government is managing the return of sport.

On Wednesday, Sport Ireland wrote to national governing bodies, including Irish Sailing, asking for their views on how a 'gradual and controlled return of sport' can be completed.

Minister of State for Sport Brendan Griffin told stakeholders he wants to know the specific challenges that sports face, the possible scenarios sailing will confront and its key concerns.

The government also wants to see draft protocol proposals on how sailing is planning to get back on the water.

The request says it would also like relevant guidance and intelligence from international bodies, in sailing's case this is World Sailing. 

Harry Hermon of Irish Sailing said here that for 'double handers and/or keelboats requiring two or more crew, it is not possible [to practise social distancing]. Even for organised activities involving single-handers requiring safety cover (with two people in the safety boat), it is not achievable'. So if the practice of social distancing will continue after restrictions are eased, how is it possible to go yacht racing or double-handed dinghy sailing at all?

It's a question both government and sailors themselves would like an answer to because 80% of all sailing in Ireland is on crewed boats. 

Meanwhile, Professor Sam McConkey, head of the Royal College of Surgeons’ department of international health and tropical medicine, believes specific sports like single-handed sailing and horse racing can return "with a two-metre social distancing rule in place very soon". McConkey also says, ideally, Ireland should follow the 'bubble' strategy pursued by New Zealand. His full interview with Gavin Cummiskey is in the Irish Times here.

Update 18/4/20: The Irish Marine Federation (IMF) has called on the Government to consider easing some restrictions. In a letter to Brendan Griffin TD, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, as seen by, IMF chairman Paal Janson says boating is one of the more 'responsible and acceptable forms of enjoying the outdoors'. Janson outlines a series of protocols to enable boating here

The request from Sport Ireland to the NGBs is reproduced below:

sport ireland letter

Published in News Update Team

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