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The British Government has launched its long-anticipated consultation with red diesel users across the UK, including Northern Ireland, following the news of plans to restrict the fuel’s usage from 2022.

This past April the UK’s Cruising Association confirmed Westminster’s intention to legislate for a ban on the use of subsidised dyed or ‘red’ diesel except for agriculture, railway and non-commercial heating.

The move is being touted as a way to tackle climate change by giving businesses an incentive to improve their energy efficiency.

But it would also bring the UK into line with EU regulations, as has Ireland’s own ban on green diesel use for cruising and leisure boating which came into force at the start of this year.

The HMRC consultation, which is open until Thursday 1 October, will seek the input of recreational boaters, among others, to determine whether they and other sectors should be allowed to maintain use of red diesel beyond April 2022.

The UK’s Royal Yachting Association (RYA) insists that it backs efforts to increase energy efficiency in the short-term and to strive towards a zero-carbon future.

However, it also makes the case for retaining red diesel based on “existing supply needs, not colour, tax status or price”.

The RYA says: “Recreational boaters already pay the full rate of duty and VAT when purchasing fuel for the purposes of propulsion.

“We will therefore be looking at the proposals to reform the tax treatment of red diesel closely to see how this might affect the supply of fuel for recreational use for both propulsion and how it will impact supply for domestic usage such as heating.

“It is a fact that the further west and north you travel in the UK, the more likely it is that you will have to rely on waterside outlets that only supply red diesel for commercial purposes, such as to fishing fleets.

“In many places, some remote, the limited quantities of fuel used by recreational craft do not warrant the cost of installing additional equipment to supply white diesel for the recreational boating sector.

“If the Government removes the entitlement to use red diesel from most sectors from April 2022 and white diesel is then made as widely available as red diesel is now, then supply of fuel will not be affected.

“The RYA will be responding to this call for evidence and urges any members with an interest in red diesel to participate in the consultation.”

Published in Cruising
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RYA Northern Ireland has released guidance for boaters after a Sport Northern Ireland update confirmed that Outdoor Activity has moved into Step 2.

However, this is limited to outdoors only and indoor activity/advice remains as it was in Step 1 until further announcements. This has allowed some additional considerations for boating activity.

The Sport Northern Ireland update highlighted that:

  • Groups of up to 10 are now permitted to take part in socially distanced outdoor training
  • No relaxation of restrictions is yet in place for indoor activity and as a result no indoor sports activity is permitted at this time.
  • Resumption of outdoor sporting activity at Step 2 is entirely conditional on robust protocols being in place, communicated, fully understood and complied with by all participants. We would therefore urge a cautious approach.

Under the Northern Ireland Executive's Pathway to Recovery, the following is therefore permitted:

Outdoor activities involving small groups of less than 10 people during which it may be difficult to maintain social distancing but where contacts are brief (less than10 minutes).

RYA Northern Ireland has updated and issued its Guidance for Step 2 and considerations of activity that could now take place.

The Governing Body continues to urge boaters to take a conservative approach to activities and to follow all public health advice in order to best help eliminate COVID 19. Guidance for access to indoors remains in Step 1 until subsequent announcements.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Newcastle Yacht Club’s Luke McIlwaine has claimed fifth spot in the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship after battling it out against nine other competitors.

The other sailors came from right across the regional and home countries. Instead of taking to the water, this time they logged on to compete against their fellow racers virtually, in a series of five races with two discards.

With live commentary from Yachts & Yachting’s Mark Jardine and RYA Pathway coach Johnny McGovern, who himself competed in the eSailing Lockdown Cup and was part of the winning ‘Splashes’ team, racing was extremely tight throughout the championship final.

A total of 2,932 sailors, from 178 different clubs from across the RYA regions and the home countries, took part in the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship, competing in club and regional championships before whittling down to just 10 finalists.

McIlwaine earned his spot in the final with his win in the Northern Ireland regional event last month.

RYA Northern Ireland’s chief operating officer Richard Honeyford said: “eSailing has been a fantastic way for our sailors to keep in touch and continue developing their race skills over the last few months while we were unable to get out on the water.

“Luke put in an impressive performance and we are delighted with his success.”

If you missed the action, you can still catch it on the RYA YouTube channel.

Next on the RYA’s eSailing calendar is the Spring Class Championship. For more visit www.rya.org.uk/go/esailing

Since the RYA announced the launch of the RYA eSailing Spring Club Championship at the start of April this year, thousands of club sailors have been taking their tactics and strategies onto the virtual waters in an attempt to represent their club in the national final.

Getting through to the final not only means beating your fellow club members in a club championship, but it also means beating other local club champions within your RYA Region, which is no easy feat.

Around 80 sailors competed in their own club championships and 8 club champions then competed in the NI final on Saturday 16th May.

Newcastle Yacht Club sailor Luke McIlwaine showed his eSailing skills with 3 bullets and was crowned NI eSailing champion.

Luke comments: “There is definitely no lack of Virtual Regatta races to take part in; particularly involvement in the regular races that can be played every day has been excellent.

He continues: “These races have such a high skill level from all sailors and they are the perfect practice ground. After a really close regional final, with some tight racing, I am expecting the final to be very competitive. I am very pleased to represent NI in the final and I am looking forward to carb-loading on Friday night!”

RS400 and Laser sailor Luke now goes on to compete in the RYA eSailing Spring Championships. 10 competitors from around the UK will compete on Saturday 30th May to find out who will be the overall eSailing Spring Champion.

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Following changes in UK government guidance for England, which allow people to travel to the coast and use the water, the RYA says it is engaging with the RNLI and representatives from the ports and leisure marine industry to help ensure a safe return to recreational boating activity amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Any facilities associated with outdoor sports and physical activities have been permitted to reopen from today, Wednesday 13 May. This includes facilities such as marinas and sailing clubs.

Guidance for English sailing clubs considering a safe plan to restart activity is available on the RYA website, while the devolved administrations have issued their own phased plans and measures.

“In line with Government guidelines for public spaces, the boating community [in England] may now drive to their destination so long as they observe social distancing,” said RYA chief executive Sarah Treseder.

“We welcome the Government’s guidance that general day trip leisure activities are being encouraged and we will continue to work with the RNLI to ensure this is done safely.”

Meanwhile, the RNLI urges people to take extra care when out on the water following the changes in government guidance for England.

‘We are urging anyone who is planning a return to the water to follow key water safety advice’

“We completely understand that people will want to take to the water, particularly as the weather improves,” said Gareth Morrison, RNLI’s head of water safety.

“Our volunteer lifeboat crews are still ready to respond during the public health crisis.

“However, we are urging anyone who is planning a return to the water to follow key water safety advice, which includes ensuring equipment is maintained and functioning correctly, and making sure that lifesaving apparatus is available.

“By following this advice we can work together to enjoy a safer summer and reduce the demand on our crews and other emergency services.”

Boaters are reminded that at present there are no RNLI lifeguards on UK beaches — and anyone visiting the coast is urged to understand the risk and takes the necessary steps to keep themselves safe.

“As we start to get back on the water, we advise boaters to take a considerate and conservative approach when planning to go afloat,” Treseder added.

“Be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services. Finally, proper preparation will prevent accidents and is a vital step to getting back on the water safely.”

Yesterday the RYANI said it continues to support the Northern Ireland Executive’s guidance on lockdown measures. The Executive has published a roadmap to recovery in which step one allows for ‘activities’, but there is no timetable for when this begins.

Some sailing activity will return in the Republic of Ireland with the first relaxation of movement restrictions next Monday 18 May.

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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Here is a chance to hone your social media skills and promote your Northern Ireland sailing club within your community at the same time.

The RYA is running a free media workshop on Tuesday 12th May from 18-00 to 19-00 hrs to help clubs and centres learn more about engaging with members and non-members and to learn more about Marketing and Social Media.

It is targeted at all club volunteers who admin their club’s social media pages

The workshop will discuss the following:-

  1. Basics of photography and videography
  2. What, how and why you should be posting on Facebook and Twitter
  3. Content planning - idea generation workshop
  4. Content calendar

You can book here https://bit.ly/2A4zwJl

And if you have any questions please contact Lisa from RYA Northern Ireland at [email protected] or call 07788 238083

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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As Northern Ireland sailors and boaters near the announcement by the Northern Ireland Executive that will outline a blueprint for the easing of lockdown restrictions and Boris Johnson’s anticipated announcement this Sunday, the RYA is working on a range of guidance and resources to help members and the wider boating community prepare for a return to the water. These resources will ensure that boaters can return to activities on the water as quickly and safely as possible.

Since the lockdown commenced, the RYA has lobbied on behalf of its members to put forward a strong case for boating to be one of the first activities that can be resumed safely within any necessary parameters for social distancing, once we start to see a relaxation of the current restrictions. RYANI has been engaged with local stakeholders and the NI Executive as frameworks are developed.

While the detail of Government plans for easing restrictions are not yet known, the RYA has outlined the following ‘guiding principles’ that will shape its detailed response:

1. We will always follow Government guidance

The COVID-19 preventative measures are vital to protecting health and wellbeing and to minimising pressure on the frontline services. We all have a role to play by following the Government guidelines.

The RYA will provide interpretation and advice to show how the latest measures on social distancing, hygiene and travel can be applied to boating showing examples of the level of activity that each phase will allow.

As both a national and international Association, we are mindful that Home Country Governments may issue their own phased plans and measures. Additionally, as we have seen to date, local authorities, harbour authorities or marinas may also interpret guidance differently. We will carefully review any industry specific guidance that impacts on boating activities, such as advice for the sport and hospitality sectors, as well as paying particular attention to any guidance for specific sections of our community.

Where the application of Government guidance is unclear, we will seek clarification so that boaters and activity organisers are kept informed.

2. We will, as a boating community, take a considerate and conservative approach

  • Considerate: be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services.

Consider the local area and whether there is a risk that you could put extra pressure on the RNLI or frontline services. For example, are you in a very remote location? Is the area very busy? Look out for others such as families on beaches or people on other boats and think about how your activity could help or hinder them. For example, windsurfers or kiteboarders who launch from the beach should give extra space to beach users. Boaters should keep an eye out for others, and be ready to assist if trouble arises.

  • Conservative: help to minimise risk by taking an extra conservative approach to your boating.

Our guidance on safety remains unchanged: know your limits; look after yourself; keep in touch and, above all, have a plan. As we start to get back on the water, we advise boaters to take an even more conservative approach when planning to go afloat.

Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive, explains: “We share our members’ enthusiasm for a return to boating once we start to see a relaxation of the current restrictions. Getting afloat undoubtedly benefits both mental and physical wellbeing and 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.

“The decision to go afloat both for individuals and activity organisers should be based on a combination of self-responsibility and risk assessment. Our work with clubs, training centres and members will focus on the mitigation of COVID-19 risks to allow individuals and activity organisers to make informed decisions relating to their own interests and activities.

“We remain committed to representing the interests of the recreational boating community and we eagerly await the Government’s announcement on Sunday. Our members, affiliated clubs, classes, and recognised training centres will receive a further update as soon as we have reviewed the Government’s plans and their impact on boating activities,” Sarah concludes.

RYA Northern Ireland’s Chief Operating Officer, Richard Honeyford adds: “We have been working closely with colleagues across the RYA to prepare core aspects that will help organisations and individuals in preparation for announcements anticipated both locally and nationally.

“We await the publication by the NI Executive on their blueprint for specific detail that will allow further guidance to be subsequently issued. Advice will be based upon the guiding principles and appreciate the patience of the local boating community as we assess any proposals and look to ensure public health and front line services remain protected.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland

The RYA has furloughed almost a third of its staff among measures to safeguard its future amid the impact of coronavirus.

In a message to member organisations last week, Richard Falk, RYA’s director of training and qualifications outlined the actions taken by the UK’s national governing body for all forms of boating, which include two weeks of mandatory leave for all staff to “ensure we are fully manned to provide the necessary service when restrictions are lifted”.

Some 30% of RYA staff have been furloughed “so far”, while all RYA-organised events to the end of may have been cancelled. Instructor training and re-validations until the end of May have also been either cancelled or postponed.

“Our focus so far has been on supporting RYA training centres as best we can through such efforts as promoting eSailing as an alternative to keep sailors engaged in the sport, and lobbying the UK Government for support for small businesses and self-employed workers who are currently falling through the cracks of the government’s financial package,” Falk says.

“Clearly we are not out of the woods yet, but we are seeing the partial lifting of restrictions in some countries. We expect further news from the UK Government [in the coming days] and obviously each country is working to its own timetable depending upon its own situation with regard to the impact of Covid-19.”

Falk says the RYA’s emphasis “is now shifting towards the future” with regard to its network of training centres around Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“We are working on the creation of advice and guidance for RYA training centres to assist with the various measures they may need to consider when thinking about plans for recommencing operations when it is safe and appropriate to do so. This will be in the form of advice rather than mandatory requirements.

“As always, RYA training centres will need to ensure they are continuing to comply with the restrictions and guidance of the competent health authorities in the country in which they are operating.”

Falk adds: “I can assure you that the entire RYA training team shares your anxiety and is experiencing the same sense of frustration and concern over what will happen in the coming weeks and months.

“We remain available to you and wish each and every one of you well as we continue to look towards what a ‘new normal’ way of operating might look like in the future.”

Published in RYA Northern Ireland
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With the current COVID-19 pandemic forcing Northern Ireland into lockdown, the RYA has received a considerable number of enquiries from members who are not able to gain access to their boats now that most marinas have closed.

The governing body is acutely aware that members currently have valid concerns about the inability to undertake checks in respect of security and essential maintenance. In response, the RYA is writing to key Government Ministers seeking definitive guidance that will give a clear and practical way forward to give owners immediate access to their boats whilst respecting current measures to control COVID-19.

Over recent weeks the RYA has been in discussions with the Government officials making the case for limited and controlled access to boats locked down in marinas. The RYA believes that visiting marinas and spending time working on a boat that is moored or ashore can be readily achieved within the parameters of the existing core Government advice regarding hygiene and social distancing. With representations to date not delivering a solution to what is evidently a critical issue for affected members, the RYA is taking the case to Ministers and calling for the support of Members of Parliament.

Boat owners need access to their property to undertake essential maintenance, for example, checks for water ingress, maintenance of engines and electrical installations that cannot be undertaken by marina staff. Many boat owners are also obligated by their insurers to visit their vessel regularly to avoid cover being refused in respect of maintenance related claims. The RYA’s advice to members is that you should check this aspect of your insurance policy with your insurers no matter what the policy states. A lockdown insurance update has also been published on the RYA website.

Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive, says: “We acknowledge and appreciate that marina operators are working as hard as possible under difficult circumstances, and are doing their best to take care of boats during the lockdown. However, marina staff obviously cannot undertake the sort of essential maintenance that responsible owners would do. The significant number of approaches that the RYA has received from members demonstrates that this is a critical issue for boat owners. We believe there are measures that could be permitted immediately within the existing Government guidance to allow access for essential maintenance.

All are predicated on the overarching need to keep people socially distant from those outside their immediate household, to shield the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions and prevent unnecessary travel”.

Concerned members should contact [email protected] and use the RYA Coronavirus hub, which outlines current advice and information for recreational boaters.”

With all sports starting to consider recovery, the RYA is developing a ‘Return to Boating’ strategy aimed at getting the message over that there is a very strong case for boating to be one of the first activities that could be resumed safely within any necessary parameters for social distancing, once we start to see a relaxation of the current restrictions.

Bangor Marina tells Afloat that the staff are very busy acting upon requests to check berth holders’ boats.

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The RYA has launched a six-week series of racing rules webinars led by rules experts including Belfast Lough's own Chris Lindsay

The webinars will be free for racing sailors and aspiring race officials to introduce and explain the racing rules of sailing. Whether you are your club’s rules expert, a squad sailor or just want to know a bit more, the series will guide you through the racing rules to give you the best advantage on the race course.

The sessions will be delivered by some of the top names in the world of racing rules including British Sailing Team coach and strategist Mark Rushall, World Sailing Governance and Rules Consultant Jon Napier and Tokyo 2020 video umpire Chris Lindsay.

The webinars, which will be screened at 8 pm every Wednesday starting from April 29, will help you understand the right of way rules, how to deal with marks, obstructions and more. Each webinar will aim to be interactive, giving you the opportunity to get your questions answered, and will also be recorded for those who can’t make the initial screening.
This is an ideal way to prepare for the coming season, for whenever we’re back on the water again.

No camera or microphone is required to join - you can simply relax, view the slides and listen to the presenter as they explain each rule, and how they apply to real-life scenarios.

If you tune in live there will be the opportunity to ask the presenter your questions. To register click here

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