Displaying items by tag: Coronavirus
In a move that will bring hope to boating communities around Ireland and the UK, harbour authorities in the Channel Island of Guernsey have permitted recreational boaters to sail as part of their daily two-hour exercise window.
The move, instituted from Saturday (2 May), is subject to a number of conditions, including full checking of all boat systems and local weather conditions, frequent cleaning of surfaces and objects touched regularly, and patience in seamanship to sail in accordance with social distancing.
In addition, skippers may only be accompanied by those who reside at the same address — or, where the vessel is sufficiently large enough, with one other person from a different household.
The islands of Alderney, Sark and Helm remain off-limits as per their respective authorities’ measures to control the spread of coronavirus.
And boats must not make landfall beyond the Bailiwick of Guernsey lest they be subject to 14 days of self-isolation upon their return.
Last week it was announced that sporting activities in Ireland would be reactivated in stages from 18 May, but it is not yet clear where recreational boating might fit into this roadmap.
Ireland now has a roadmap to the easing of restrictions from Covid-19 but as Afloat has heard from sailing organisers there is still clarity needed as to how we can return to sailing. Copying what New Zealand is doing as it prepares to get back on the water may point the way for Ireland to implement the 'bubble' concept that permits increased close quarters activity in sport, including sailing.
As well all know now, the only thing that is definite in these troubled times is change – what the World looked like in early March is very different to early May and early July will, no doubt, see even further changes.
Speculation on what the “new normal” will look like occupies much of the media space right now. Countries and regions that are leading the race away from lockdown restrictions are being watched carefully to see their measures and the success or failure of those measures. New Zealand and Australia’s isolation has given them a head start on the rest of the world – it is likely that New Zealand’s 4 alert level plan informed many aspects of Ireland’s 5 phase roadmap.
New Zealand has today, May 4, recorded no new cases. This suggests that a move from the current level 3 to level 2 could happen as early as May 11, allowing boating again, which was not permitted under New Zealand's level 3. There is more on the NZ Bubble in the Evening Standard here. And as Afloat reported previously, the model is something that Professor Sam McConkey, head of the Royal College of Surgeons’ department of international health and tropical medicine, has pointed too. McConkey believes specific sports like single-handed sailing can return to the water soon.
The “bubble” concept is now widely practised – we are largely confined to the household bubble here in Ireland, but as they emerge from strict lockdown protocols, New Zealand and Australia (and some other areas) consider the extension or joining of bubbles to include wider family groups. Indeed, Australia and New Zealand are considering a trans-Tasman bubble to allow travel to resume between the two countries.
It may be possible to use the bubble concept, aligned to testing and tracing, to permit increased close quarters activity in the area of contact sports. A bubble of people, all of whom are Covid-free, could play with another bubble of Covid-free participants.
In sailing, if we can ensure that our crewmates are all Covid-free, then activity could resume. And while this may seem far-fetched right now, the constantly changing environment may permit this in a few month’s time?
“In my head I was going, ‘If I give up here, they’re going to be saying that Annalise The Olympian has just quit’. So I couldn’t quit.”
That’s how Annalise Murphy explains her motivation to keep up her fitness and focus for the next Olympics in the time of coronavirus, in an interview with Malachy Clerkin in The Irish Times this weekend.
Within a matter of weeks, the event she and thousands of other athletes had been working towards for months, if not years, was suddenly another year away.
And what’s more, movement restrictions prevented her from even taking to the water for training — and it’s still not entirely clear when that will resume. “I do really miss sailing right now,” she says.
In the meantime, the Irish hero of Rio 2016 has had to refocus her energies, training as much as she can at home.
But the situation, in giving her more time to think about her quest for Ireland’s reserved Laser Radial spot in Tokyo, has also had the side effect of expanding her ambitions.
“Initially, I was very much thinking I was going to retire after the Olympics,” she explains. “But after the Worlds [in February] I was going, ‘Well, I don’t know if I can retire now – I need to go and try to win a Worlds before I retire.’
The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.
Ian Skelton, Hon Sec of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland’s Shannon Harbour branch and who confirmed the news, said it is hoped to have some sort of gathering in the rally’s stead later in the year if the situation improves.
Elsewhere, the Barrow Awards 2020 have been cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, as reported by John Dimond of Barrow IWAI.
The award scheme promotes groups all along the River Barrow to focus on and improve their river frontage and acknowledges their efforts.
The awards have been supported by the county councils adjoining the Barrow, chaired by Eileen O’Rourke of Carlow County Council and with the backing of Waterways Ireland.
French boatbuilder Beneteau has restarted production at three of its sites as it announced half-year earnings that showed a 4.7% rise in consolidated revenues by the end of February.
International Boat Industry reports that this was thanks to sustained business in both its boat and housing divisions — though it represents a period before the impact of coronavirus on the economy worldwide.
In response to the current crisis, Beneteau’s CEO has taken a salary reduction and a new strategic plan will follow in July to reflect significant changes in global markets.
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
The past weekend’s good weather tempted a group of jet-skiers who subsequently ran into difficulty in Clew Bay, as The Irish Times reports.
Achill Island RNLI launched its lifeboat on Saturday evening (25 April) to reports of three men on personal water craft needing assistance between Newport in Rosmoney — waters considered treacherous for even the most experienced of mariners.
All three were towed to Rosmoney with a locally owned RIB in an operation that also involed the Irish Coast Guard and An Garda Síochána.
Gardai also mounted further patrols of Lough Derg, where earlier this month they had exercised their emergency powers to warn inland waterways users to stay at home as measures to control coronavirus remain in place.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
The president of Tokyo 2020 says the Olympic Games already postponed to next year “will be scrapped” if it cannot go ahead at its rescheduled date.
As RTE News reports, Yoshiro Mori was responding to concerns that a vaccine for the coronavirus — which has infected more than three million and killed over 200,000 worldwide — may not be readily available before July 2021, when the delayed Tokyo games are now set to begin.
But Mori, a former prime minister of Japan, said he was confident that “we will have won the battle” against Covid-19 by next summer.
A Tokyo 2020 spokesperson later insisted that Mori’s comment about potentially cancelling the next Olympics was “in his own thoughts”.
RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.
A British sailing industry figure is looking to form a Special Interest Group (SIG) of clubs, classes, sailors, trade and other stakeholders to lobby for the safe restarting of racing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
SailRacer managing director Simon Lovesey says the aim is to develop strategies and plans to allow sailing and racing to resume as soon as sensible (and safe) and, if need be, to lobby for fair treatment of sailing particularly among the grassroots of Britain’s sailing community.
“As and when the [UK] Government looks to ease restrictions, my concern is that sailing will be treated the same as much broader sectors, so clubs will be lumped in with bars and restaurants, and sailing events as festivals,” he says.
“The indications are these broad sectors will only be allowed to restart near the end of any easing of restrictions. In Holland, sailing events are categorised as festivals, which are prohibited from operating until September at the earliest.
“So, it is important we learn to live with the situation and make adaptations to allow some activities to be undertaken.
“With suitable adaptations, sailing and boating should be able to address many of the self-distancing requirements, and I understand the virus cannot be transmitted via water. Sailing brings many health benefits: physical, mental and plenty of the all important respiratory gains.”
Lovesey reminds that Downing Street has set a deadline of this Thursday 30 April for submissions of evidence from sporting individuals and groups to illustrate the impact of Covid-19 on their sector, and suggestions of how to adapt and innovate to deal with the current situation.
He believes a more focused contribution from clubs and classes alongside the RYA’s presumed submission “will give the opportunity to convey more of the details and in particular the grassroots element of sailing” that the broad remit of the larger body may not include.
Any parties interested in taking part in the suggested Restart Racing Action Group can contact Simon Lovesey at [email protected]
Outdoor activities that allow for physical distancing will be the first priority when relaxing restrictions on organised sports, the chief executive of Sport Ireland has said.
Speaking at a press briefing with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Friday last (24 April), as The Irish Times reports, John Treacy suggested that sports such as golf, which are performed in the open air with significant distance between competitors, would be among the first for review.
Sports Minister Brendan Griffin also confirmed, according to The Times, that Sport Ireland has classified various sports depending on whether they are judged to be low, medium or high risk of spreading Covid-19.
Though there was no mention of single-handed sailing classes, canoeing was expressly cited along those classed as low-risk.
But Minister Griffin stressed that “planning is an an early stage and none of this has been cleared by the National Public Health Emergency Team”.
He added: “We want to be ready to go when we get the nod. It would be important for national morale if some sport could return.”