Although a few countries are still to ease their lockdowns, sailing is restarting around the world, including Ireland where a Coastguard advisory was lifted this morning and boating with social distancing made its debut as Irish clubs and marinas reopened to boat owners.
Sailing with a crew made up from the same household is now possible subject to the constraints of taking leisure pursuits within five km from a person’s home and returning to the harbour of departure.
As we see a return to the water, sailing clubs are looking at the next stages and the restarting of yacht racing.
With aggressive social distancing measures in place, running yacht races with a traditional race management set-up and lots of people crammed onto a committee boat is going to be difficult and so is conventional crewed racing.
The UK based RestartSailing Group have been exploring simpler race formats and a number of GPS tracking apps are emerging that allows Simple Racing to be run automatically. It's a virtual format that has been tried with success by leading offshore body ISORA who have been using virtual courses for its offshore league racing since 2012.
Olympic sailor Mark Mansfield has already offered suggestions on how racing can restart by reducing crew numbers in a bid to comply with two-metre social distancing rules.
As Afloat's WM Nixon said last Saturday, Irish sailors need flexible thinking and tolerance in their emergence from Covid-19 if we are to get the scene going again otherwise the 2020 sailing season will look like a desert.
A poll on the UK based RestartSailing Facebook Group indicated that 41% of clubs have opened, with 45% in the planning stages of opening shortly and 14% unable to open due to external factors.
The pressure group have set up a Simple Racing Group to consider this new format if you are interested in getting involved you can join here