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Ballyholme Yacht Club Ready for Return to Sailing on Belfast Lough

15th May 2020
Ballyholme Yacht Club Ballyholme Yacht Club

In response to the pathway to recovery strategy published by the NI Executive on 12th May, the Executive Committee at Ballyholme Yacht Club on Belfast Lough is planning a return to water-based activities. With the dinghy parks dormant and the marina still closed, members will be rarin’ to get afloat as soon as possible.

Stay at Home is still the current advice and the committee supports the Five Stage plan. Therefore, the club approach to getting members back on the water will be based on both guidance provided by the NI Executive and the RYA. The priority will always be the safety of members and staff.

Ballyholme Lockdown 3Ballyholme during Lockdown

RYA has set up working groups and is consulting with clubs. A BYC member, Robin Gray, sits on the National RYA Return to Racing Working Party which is tasked with writing detailed guidelines for the clubs on restarting racing. A BYC COVID-19 working group will look at all club activities to assess risk, implement controls and policies, and regularly review guidelines and our procedures.

Step one of the NI Executive’s plan will allow for a return to some on-water activity which it is hoped will include sailing and will allow the slipways and dinghy parks to be opened to facilitate ‘social sailing’.

The clubhouse will not be available at this stage and sailing will be for single or double-handed boats (crewed only by members of the same household). As safety cover will not be available so sailors must be realistic about their abilities and importantly consider the sea state and weather conditions to minimise risk. Other club activities such as open water swimming, windsurfing, paddleboarding and kayaking should also be able possible under the same conditions. If all goes well and the NI Executive progresses to step two, which increases participant numbers to 10, some form of racing and cadet sailing can take place.

In the meantime, online quizzes and events for all ages have proved popular but it recognised that so much dependent on the public following the guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus and get the R number down in our community to allow us to progress through the steps.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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