Sunday's PM announcement on the easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures brought a pleasant surprise with grass roots activities, including sailing, given the go ahead to resume this week, under self distancing measures. The media talk the previous week had been of a return of elite sport, including the Premier League being given priority. It seems that even with matches played behind closed doors, there are still many issues to overcome, notwithstanding the need for several hundred people to be on-site in close proximity to each other.
It looks like some casual sailing will be starting this week, where access to the water is available. Many clubs will be reliant on their landlords and those who control the water (eg harbour authorities) to allow sailing to restart. Now we have an official roadmap, there is much hard work to be done, but at least we have started the journey back to some normality. The journey is likely to be a long one, so we need to adapt and learn to live with this new normal.
It is good to see the RYA issuing guidelines to sailing clubs, helping them develop their own plans to suit local conditions, the hard work starts now.
It has been great to see a significant number of the sailing community offer to help with the Task Groups, some with some highly relevant experience outside of sailing. The Task Groups will start to meet this week.
The first #RestartSailing survey analysis has now been received and highlights the many different challenges the sector is experiencing. The good news is the C19 situation is bringing the sailing community together, working on solving many major problems in collaboration.
Sailing sector (clubs, classes and trade) facing massive financial struggle with all activity cancelled and drop in membership renewals due to Covid-19 situation.
59% stated they have financial concerns.
Mixed levels of support available (good to bad)
Concerns over time and money needed to restart as facilities and equipment has been effectively mothballed
The need to reassure the sailing community and neighbours that sailing is being responsible and taking the C19 risks seriously.
Long term concerns over long term impact over Covid-19, particularly a lack of confidence in people returning to sailing and reputational damage of sailing seen to return too soon
Need to reboot sailing and use the Covid-19 crisis to bring much needed reform
Lots of good ideas emerging
"Many businesses in the sector will struggle to survive. It's likely that some will have to close down as loans don't recover losses during these times."
"Sailing clubs, which usually operate on small margins and are already struggling for membership, are likely to suffer substantial losses and even be forced to close."
#restartsailing - bringing the sailing community together to ensure and encourage a safe return to sailing, sharing ideas for best practice. Communicating and reassuring stakeholders that sailing clubs, classes and events are acting in a responsible manner.