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Displaying items by tag: Coronavirus

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club has cited “continued uncertainty regarding international border openings” amid the coronavirus pandemic in its decision to cancel the 2021 Rolex China Sea Race, which had been due to start on 31 March.

In a statement, RHKYC Commodore Denis Martinet, said: “We are of course very disappointed having already postponed this blue ribbon event last year.

“We felt that the situation would have improved sufficiently by March 2021. Yet this is not to be and we feel that it is prudent to cancel.

“The club will nevertheless endeavour to organise an independent race around the same dates in full compliance with any restrictions in place.

“Meanwhile we shall work tirelessly to bring about a fantastic Rolex China Sea Race in 2022 to celebrate its 60th anniversary.”

The club has scheduled next year’s offshore event for 13-27 April 2022, and thanked all registered teams and sponsor Rolex for their support.

The Rolex China Sea Race is among a number of casualties of continued pandemic restrictions in 2021, with the most recent being the RORC Caribbean 600 as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

With the rise in COVID-19 cases and in line with Government guidelines, Crosshaven Boatyard has no option but to close its gates for the time being.

In a statement on social media, the Cork Harbour boatyard appealed for private boat owners to have patience under the current restrictions, which will remain in place until at the least the end of January.

Those within the 5km travel radius may visit to check on their vessels, but are asked to come alone and not to carry out any works.

“If for any reason you feel the need to have your boat checked, please contact the office and we can arrange one of our staff to do this on your behalf,” the boatyard said, adding that staff will be at hand for emergency haul-outs.

The boatyard will also still support essential services such as commercial fishing, Department of Defence, science and research, the RNLI and Port of Cork.

The team added: “Finally we would like to thank you all for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you all back in the water boating once again. Stay safe.”

Crosshaven Boatyard recently changed hands, and new owner Pearse Flynn shared details of his plans to make its facilities the backbone of offshore wind farm services.

Published in Crosshaven Boatyard

Scotland’s struggling aquatic tourism sector is set to be boosted by a £2.5m pandemic support package from the devolved government, as Marine Industry News reports.

Sail Scotland and Wild Scotland have secured the £2.5m restart grant scheme aimed at supporting businesses through the expense of gearing up for the 2021 season.

Both inland and coastal operators will be eligible to apply for grants from £1,000 up to £15,000 in the VisitScotland-administered scheme.

Operators of visitor moorings and pontoons will also be able to access grants of between £1,000 and £7,500 in the scheme, which opens in January.

“After months of pressing the case to the Scottish Government, we are pleased the hardship faced by operators in the marine sector is being recognised,” Sail Scotland chief executive Alan Rankin says.

But he adds that the restart funding is just one of the industry’s ‘three asks’ of the regional government — with the others being “detailed solutions around workable rules” and a “recovery marketing fund”.

Marine Industry News has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

Non-contact organised training and coaching for sailing can resume in pods of 15 when a move to Level 3 COVID Restrictions (modified) take effect from Tuesday 1st December according to a Government announcement.

The main points of these restrictions as they impact on sailing activity are:

  • Non-contact organised training & coaching can resume in pods of 15. This allows for mixed household crew for double handers and keelboats with crew sailing in pods.
  • Professional and Elite sailing continues
  • Instructor Training can resume

With respect to Travel restrictions, county restrictions apply to all with the exception for work, education, medical and other essential purposes.

Tagged under

The RNLI says its volunteer crews faced an “unprecedented” summer as statistics reveal a big increase in callouts to people in distress compared to the same time last year.

Based on provisional incident reports from lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, the RNLI says there was a 64% jump in the number of recreational water users its crews aided.

RNLI lifeguards around the UK also reported an increase in the number of visitors to beaches around the coast as coronavirus lockdown measures eased between June and August.

The newly released figures cover people who got into difficulty while bodyboarding, using inflatables, kayaking, or canoeing, kitesurfing, paddle boarding, rowing, surfing, swimming, waterskiing, windsurfing and dinghy sailing.

This summer, 177 water users were aided while kayaking or canoeing, an increase of 84 people in comparison to 2019.

The number of people who needed help from RNLI lifeboat crews after getting into difficulties on inflatables more than doubled, the charity adds.

Stand-up paddle boarding, and increasingly popular sport, saw a 40% rise in lifeboat launches and the number of casualties assisted almost tripled.

Lifeboat crew callouts to swimmers were up by 14%. And launches to people who got into trouble while walking or running at the coast over the summer increased by 46%, with 175 more people aided in comparison to last year.

The RNLI’s head of water safety, Gareth Morrison, said: “Our volunteer crews have been on call throughout the pandemic. This year, they faced a summer like no other.

“When lockdown restrictions eased, we saw people flock to the beaches to enjoy our coastlines instead of holidaying abroad. But that resulted in a huge number of people getting into difficulty around our coasts, with our lifesavers facing an incredibly busy summer.

“If you find yourself in trouble at the coast this winter, call 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

The RNLI has spent £1.2 million (€1.34 million) this year on PPE to keep its lifesavers and the public safe during the coronavirus crisis, including almost 700,000 face masks, 2.4 million gloves and 4,700 litres of hand sanitiser.

Additionally, RNLI shops were closed, and fundraising events were cancelled, costing the charity that saves lives at sea potentially millions in lost income.

The RNLI relies on the support of the public to continue saving lives, and that support is needed now more than ever. To support its Christmas Appeal visit RNLI.org/Xmas

Four-time Olympic keelboat helmsman Mark Mansfield, a regular competitor at Irish IRC and one-design regattas and Irish agent for some well-known sailing brands, reviews how the 2020 sailing season 'happened' in pandemic and considers what could be done to keep the scene alive in 2021

2020 will likely go down as one of the strangest ever yacht racing seasons. It started back in January with great optimism, looking forward to such events as the Round Ireland Race, The 300th Anniversary Cork Week Regatta, Bangor Regatta on Belfast Lough and Wave Regatta in Howth. In the end, though some regattas were rescheduled for later in the year, all foundered with the ups and downs of the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic.

In the few months from May to August, some reasonable racing was allowed to be had at club level around the country, including a decent number of DBSC races on Dublin Bay and a revamped ISORA series from Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Article author Mark Mansfield believes reduced crew numbers and coastal courses can help to keep cruiser-racer going in pandemicArticle author Mark Mansfield suggests reduced crew numbers and an emphasis on coastal course racing can help to keep cruiser-racer going in 2021

One of the highlights was a pop up offshore fixture, the inaugural 260-mile Fastnet 450 Race, which involved a race from Dun Laoghaire on the East Coast around the Fastnet Rock on the South Coast and into Cork Harbour, all held under strict no contact Covid regulations with an online briefing and prizegiving.

The winner of the Fastnet 450 Race was Royal Cork yacht Nieulargo (Denis and Annamarie Murphy Photo: AfloatThe winner of the Fastnet 450 Race was Royal Cork yacht Nieulargo (Denis and Annamarie Murphy Photo: Afloat

Clearly, the lessons learned in 2020 will need to be brought into 2021 to see what was successful, and what was not.

Going forward, large onshore events which involve a lot of socialising and shoreside entertainments will not likely be a runner again in 2021. So how should we be preparing to ensure 2021 allows decent racing and allows owners to get good use out of their boats? Here are some suggestions and thoughts on this.

Boat crew numbers

When Afloat published my thoughts on the 12th of May about how keelboat racing work can with social distancing, I suggested that reducing cruiser crew numbers while racing would assist in social distancing and project the right image.

This article was picked up by the international sailing media and carried by websites around the world. I got a lot of positive feedback.

Mark Mansfield's May article in Afloat was well received across the racing worldA screenshot of Mark Mansfield's May article in Afloat setting out how keelboat racing can be kept going in pandemic

In Ireland, Irish Sailing, the national governing body, decided to effectively open up to full crews on yachts, after initially being ultra-cautious and allowing no cruiser-racing apart from same household crews. Then, when Level 3 came in, all racing was closed down again, despite other sports continuing to compete. This course of action and the zig-zag nature of their direction has led to a lot of disquiet and it continues.

In the UK, when they allowed cruiser racing to open up, it initially was with household crews, then when this was extended it was with limited numbers while racing.

80% of a boats IRC crew number rounded to the nearest whole number was the norm with events such as the RORC IRC National Championships and the J Cup, both held under these restrictions.

I appreciate sailing happens in the open air and it has been rare to find anyone being infected with Covid-19 while sailing, however, reducing crew numbers shows the sport is making the effort and the optics are much better. Eight bodies sitting out shoulder to shoulder on a 35-footer does not give the right impression.

Joker 2 going upwind in Kinsale 2017 ICRA Nationals—which she wonBefore COVID - The successful Dublin Bay J109 Joker II going upwind in Kinsale at the 2017 ICRA Nationals – which she won

With many owners struggling to fill full crew positions on their boats anyway, restricting all boat crew numbers could also help level the playing field. Maybe Irish Sailing and the Clubs it represents could look at this as an option to allow racing to continue next year?

2021 Irish Sailing Calendar

2021 is scheduled to be another big year if Covid allows it. For cruiser-racers around the country, you have, in addition to DBSC, ISORA and other club racing, the following big events.

Add to this WIORA in Tralee, and perhaps another Fastnet 450 Race and this could be a really great season—if it all goes ahead. So how does sailing position itself to be able to complete these larger regattas in what will likely still be a Summer of Covid restrictions? The answer has to be:

Good PR – Highlighting the Covid restrictions to make everyone safe—no gatherings, no briefings, no in-person prizegivings. Highlight the sailing, not the shore activities.

Reduce crew numbers  see above

Provide more coastal and longer races – rather than the three races a day that is the norm. Shorter races with more turning marks need more crew aboard and all the crew end up coming ashore at the same time. Longer Coastal races need fewer people and the boats come back home on a staggered basis.

Prepare a strong 'Plan B'  for having no onshore events or contact. July's Dun Laoghaire Regatta with four clubs to dissipate people, an on-site marina and a large town just behind, are already anticipating this by separating the event into one designs one weekend and IRC racing the next.

More offshore racing

Offshore and long coastal racing needs to be included more in boat owners plans if they are to get value from their investment. As the Fastnet 450 Race showed, there is an increasing appetite for this form of the sport, and in these Covid times, that interest has grown further. Offshore racing, with limits on crew numbers, allows for relatively safe sailing with crews being able to stay apart easier and boats arriving back to port looking for rest rather than social interaction.

ISORA managed to run eight coastal races off Dun Laoghaire Harbour this season keeping the Irish Sea offshore scene very much alive despite the pandemic Photo: AfloatISORA managed to run eight coastal races off Dun Laoghaire Harbour this season keeping the Irish Sea offshore scene very much alive despite the pandemic Photo: Afloat

ISORA can be congratulated for growing this form of the sport in Ireland and Wales and even in this difficult year, they were able to get in a range of races, all be it without being able to mix the Irish and welsh boats. The combination of shortish offshore races and long coastal racing has been very popular in 2020 and I expect you will see a few more boats join their ranks in 2021.

On the South Coast, there is a move afoot to come up with a similar series to link the Fastnet 450 race with the Kinsale/Fastnet/Kinsale race and then add some coastal day races to form a series. More to follow on this.

ISORA Champion Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) from the Royal Irish Yacht ClubISORA Champion Rockabill VI (Paul O'Higgins) from the Royal Irish Yacht Club

Fingers crossed a vaccine or better treatments for Covid will come quickly, but it is doubtful that they will come quickly enough to mean our 2021 season will be back to normal. We have to expect that 2021 will be disrupted again, and now it the time to plan for this. With some small changes, a bit of luck and a bit of goodwill all or most of these big events above can happen and be a great success. Let's plan for the worst but hope for the best.

Mark Mansfield is an Irish agent for Quantum Sails and J Boats/Grand Soleil in Ireland. More details below.

Tagged under

Waterways Ireland has temporarily closed service blocks across its all-island network of inland waters as of today, Thursday 22 October.

The move is in line with the latest coronavirus control measures announced by both the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government.

Pump-out facilities remain available for use but owners must ensure that travel to these facilities is done in a responsible manner, minimising the amount of essential movement out on the water.

In the Republic of Ireland, all service blocks, locks and bridges are closed for at least the next six weeks.

Waterways users on both sides of the border are advised that no unnecessary travel should be undertaken at this time.

Boaters in the Republic of Ireland are additionally reminded that essential travel and exercise is only permitted up to 5km from home.

Travel further than 5km to check on vessels moored on the navigation is expressly prohibited until further notice.

The five-day mooring rule suspension on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway has been extended to 31 October with no additional cost.

Towpath users are also reminded of the need to observe social distancing and other Level 5 restrictions.

Waterways Ireland’s message to all waterways users continues to be ‘please stay at home’.

Published in Inland Waterways

Co Antrim’s famous coastal path at The Gobbins is set to reopen next week on Tuesday 1 September. months after it was closed in the initial wave of coronavirus restrictions in Northern Ireland.

As RTÉ News reports, the cliff path — which was restored in 2015 after being closed for decades — has had a number of safety upgrades to allow for social distancing and hygiene standards to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Prebooking is also essential to allow for proper management of the popular Islandmagee attraction, renowned for its white-knuckle series of rugged steps, tunnels, caves and bridges.

Waterways Ireland’s jetties have reopened at Clonmacnoise, Shannonbridge, Shannon Harbour and Banagher on the Shannon Navigation following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions on counties Laois and Offaly.

Meanwhile, visiting moorings on the Grand and Royal Canals, Barrow Navigation and Barrow Line in Co Kildare will remain closed as restrictions remain in place for the county for another two weeks.

Waterways Ireland said it strongly encourages people to strictly observe social distancing measures throughout its network of inland waterways.

“We are asking our users not to congregate, to keep moving, and allow ample space for others to pass in accordance with social distancing protocols,” it added.

Elsewhere, weed cutting operations are under way at Portna and Movanagher on the Lower Bann from today, Monday 24 to Friday 28 August.

Boaters in these areas are advised to approach with caution, reduce speed and follow any instructions or signage.

On Lough Derg, water users are advised to proceed with caution in the vicinity of Goat’s Road as the green E Buoy is currently off station at Bellvue Eoint.

And the public mooring at Leitrim village has been closed for a Garda investigation into a tragic incident in the early hours of Sunday 23 August.

Alternate moorings are available below the bridge in Leitrim village and at Lock 16 on the Shannon-Erne Waterway.

Published in Inland Waterways

This year’s Watersports Inclusion Games, which had been set for 5-6 September at Lough Derg Yacht Club, have been cancelled over continued coronavirus concerns.

In a statement, Irish Sailing said that “the current trajectory of the virus spread, coupled with the logistics, people involved and format of the event brought us to this decision”.

Ireland’s national governing body for sailing expressed its thanks to all “who worked so hard in trying to bring this year’s Inclusion Games to fruition”.

Lough Derg YC will instead host next year’s games, being planned for 18-29 June 2021.

The news follows the cancellation of the Women at the Helm Regatta later this month over similar concerns.

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