Sailors returning to action - but under strict social distancing conditions

PUBLISHED: 12:35 22 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:35 22 June 2020

Naval patrol boats coming down river at the River Exe Regatta

Naval patrol boats coming down river at the River Exe Regatta

fotoboat/Mike Rice

With coronavirus pandemic restrictions being eased some sailing clubs have been able to gradually phase in a return to action.

Naval patrol boats coming down river at the River Exe RegattaNaval patrol boats coming down river at the River Exe Regatta

The month of June is usually graced by the staging of the Exe Regatta.

Sadly, this year’s event has, so far, fallen foul of the coronavirus pandemic that has shut down so much sport.

However, sailing clubs are being able to open their clubs to members, albeit observing the government guidelines on social distancing.

So, prior to any further relaxing ie – tweaking the current two-metre distancing rules – what can sailors do?

Comet Trio at the River Exe RegattaComet Trio at the River Exe Regatta

Well, as things stand, up to six people (in sailing parlance that is three double handers, or six single handers, or any combination thereof, can decide to sail together around a mutually agreed course, and can use some mutually agreed approach to establish who sailed the quickest.

You can use a ‘rabbit’ (gate) start, or set off at intervals, and you can finish at an agreed point.

However, currently you cannot specifically organise a safety boat to monitor/patrol the race, but if there is a safety boat in the vicinity it can help boats in distress.

You must maintain at least two-metres distance between people in different boats, and double handers can only be sailed by people that are living together.

Hornet at the River Exe RegattaHornet at the River Exe Regatta

Finally it is possible that more than one group of up to six boats can be indulging in some informal racing at the same time – but they have to be independent groups.

The RYA guidelines would seem to allow limited, low-key racing for small groups of boats that can organise themselves without recourse to SYC’s shore-side, safety boat or race management facilities.

What is very clear is that the current RYA guidelines do not allow anyone to advertise a race, use a support boat to lay a course or start/finish a race, have more than six individuals involved, publish results, or indeed do anything that could be interpreted to be a formal race.

B14 at the River Exe RegattaB14 at the River Exe Regatta

So, sailing, but not as the sea–faring fraternity know it – for now!

In the meantime, the best we can offer in terms of ‘sailing coverage’ is to take you back to 2019 and the Exe Regatta which was hosted by Starcross Yacht Club.

The pictures come courtesy of Mike Rice/Fotoboat.

Exe EC Committee Boat Exe EC Committee Boat "Up Spirits" on station near Lympstone for the River Exe Regatta

Merlin Rocket at the River Exe RegattaMerlin Rocket at the River Exe Regatta

Comet Trio at the River Exe RegattaComet Trio at the River Exe Regatta


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