Sailing 2020: Back to the Basics
Published on May 28th, 2020
by Martine Zurinskas
In the wake of Georgia’s recent reopening plan, the Augusta Sailing Club took a big step to restart the sailing season by hosting the first regatta with new procedures on Memorial Day weekend. Located on a small inland lake on the border of South Carolina and Georgia, the small sailing club kept the event local and adhered to recent guidelines.
There were many changes… The NOR was different, ZOOM skippers meeting, no onsite check in, no food was provided, and the clubhouse remained locked, just to name a few. The bathhouse was open in the campground and equipped with enough spray bottles of disinfectant for a small company.
Since the event was small and the club large, the camping and launch area was big enough for everyone to spread out. Most importantly there was SAILING!
Augusta Sailing Club was determined to have racing continue even with the new restrictions and knew that the sailors would cooperate with all the new rules just to get out on the water. With everyone being quarantined at home, we were looking for an excuse to get out, and sailing is the perfect way to do it!
While mostly a local club event, a few of us junior parents that were clamoring for a change of scenery headed over for a weekend of camping. This entailed cooking on the camp stove, roasting s’mores, and time on the water sailing.
Over 50 boats participated with a Portsmouth start which had everything from a few E-Scows to Laser 4.7s and Sunfish racing on the same course.
I shoved my kids off the shore with life jackets stuffed with granola bars, super coated with sunscreen, and enough water to last hours. I realized they would be just fine without a coach or support boat and getting away from Mom (aka: teacher for the last 2.5 months) was healthy for all!
While the wind died after two races, my junior sailors came in with big smiles and lots of good stories about starting with the big boats and rethinking their light wind strategy. They even bragged about their boat rocking to get into shore when the wind died because there were no coach boats to tow everyone.
With the current circumstances, there will be no rafting up on coach boats or onsite classroom sessions. Sailors will need to be independent and carry their own lunch, water, and sunscreen while coaching sessions will need to take place over Zoom. End result might be that junior sailors might learn MORE!
The main takeaways were that my kids embraced this adventure, they learned a ton from sailing Portsmouth and mingling with other fleets, and revisited the basics of sailing though this event. I thank all the sailors for patience on the water and the race committee families that ran the event.
Taking it back to the sailing basics was just fine with us, including camping and cooking. Keeping the event local was key, since we cannot ship our boats and fly all over the world, and by limiting communal spaces we were able to abide by guidelines and kept everyone safe.
All attendees’ passion for sailing was reinforced with this event, showing that sailing can continue because the majority of it takes place six feet apart.