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Walmer's Downs Sailing Club got back on the water on Sunday for the first time since New Year's Day

Members of the Downs Sailing club got back out on the water at the weekend

The season should have started on March 29 but Sunday was the first sail for the Walmer-based club since New Year’s Day.

Downs Sailing Club members were back out on the water at the weekend (36316214)
Downs Sailing Club members were back out on the water at the weekend (36316214)

A course was set for boats to follow and strict guidelines had to be followed over launching and recovery so that social distancing and safety procedures could be followed.

Fourteen boats were launched but everyone was cautious and were followingstrict social distancing guidance. Sunday’s event was purely recreational - racing will have to wait.

A club spokesperson said: “The safety procedures required a lot of thought, but for the fourteen boats who launched in the force three/four westerly wind, the first trial of the new way of sailing worked well.

“All the Downs family were delighted to have the club back where it belongs - on the water!”

The clubhouse changing rooms, canteen and bar remain closed so as to maintain two metre distance and only members of the same household were permitted to sail together.

This ‘same household’ rule applies to the safety boat crew and, to eliminate any unnecessary contact, Downs will only sail on Sundays at the moment in easy conditions in order to avoid capsize situations.

With boats following a course, the safety boat had control over the area and sailing was staggered over two hours so that boats could be launched and brought in one at a time. Sailors were on the water different amounts of time, according to how long they wanted to stay.

The RYA are not against clubs returning to racing - boating has been permitted since May 13 - but are conscious of gatherings shoreside. Their main message is “be considerate - be conservative.”

They ask clubs and competitors to “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” and “help to minimise risk by taking an extra conservative approach to your boating.”

Part of their advice to the sailing community states that “we see that our role is to provide advice and guidance to clubs and classes and help you to make your own informed choices.

“With a return to pre-Covid style racing unlikely for a significant time clubs will need to adapt their offering to members and stakeholders to ensure as much engagement as is safe and practicable.”

Prior to easing of lockdown regulations club members were kept busy with a series of challenges, including building a model of their boat out of things found at home.

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