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An opportunity to simplify sailing

Published on May 9th, 2020

As health guidelines to halt the spread of COVID-19 impact the 2020 racing calendar, the impulse is to salvage as much of the schedule as possible. However, what might become a safer and more sensible approach is to wipe the slate clean and create a simpler plan.

Here’s a view shared by RCR Yachts – a fixture on the Great Lakes sailing scene since 1972, selling new and used boats along with operating several boat yards and marinas:

Many of us enjoy sailboat racing. Under COVID-19 racing as we know it will not be possible in the near term. That does not mean we can’t race, it means we need to do things differently.

There are many really smart people who race sailboats and organize racing and regattas. Plenty of them are in the medical field. There is tremendous brain power at work right now sorting through the issues of how we can continue to enjoy our passion in a safe manner.

The first recommendation is for us to get back to sailing for the fun of it, simply to enjoy sailing for what it is. Just get out and go sailing.

Sailboat racing, like many other things in life, has been heading in the direction of more and more perfection and complication. We are going to be dialing it back. As we ease into racing it will be with fewer people on the boat, fewer people on the dock, fewer people at the launch ramp, and with people protecting themselves and those around them.

There will be hand washing stations. Single-handed racing is easy, doublehanded is next, especially with family teams. Races may be started and finished from a spot on shore as opposed to from a committee boat. Fixed marks may be used, so no mark boat is needed. Non-spinnaker racing will be more common so boats can be handled by fewer crew.

Local racing will start first, followed at some point by regattas for sailors closer to home. National event will be down the road. By focusing first on our home clubs, we can arrive at simple solutions that don’t require much in the way of resources and people.

It is important to keep in mind that we are only a few months into this pandemic and much more has yet to be learned. Baby steps first.

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