Social responsibility in global pandemic

Published on July 14th, 2020

To avoid the spread of COVID-19, organized racing on the local level can provide a casual format with simple courses, that don’t require complicated crew work, while providing a worthy recreational experience.

But when complication increases, so do the risks, which include the social aspect afterwards. Temptation to mingle is massive, and while governments may close down bars and barbers to limit the spread, none of that matters if people gather irresponsibly.

This is difficult as the social aspect is huge in sailing. While there is only one winner on the race course, everyone can win the party, plus the secrets from the race course are often revealed amid adult beverages. Once the winners are relaxed… take notes!

However, if an event is known as much for its après sailing as it is for its sailing, it has been cause for cancellation during this coronavirus pandemic. Sue Pelling reports on why Burnham Week 2020, a premier annual regatta along the east coast of England, will not take place this year:


The organizers had hoped the national and global measures in place earlier in the year to help manage the spread of the COVID-19 virus would have eased enough to allow this late season regatta (August 28-September 4) to run as ‘normal’ as possible.

However, with social gathering restrictions that would affect the spirit of the event still currently in place, the decision was made to put the event on hold until 2021.

Commenting on the situation Edwin Buckley – PRO – said as well as affecting the usual nature of this event, it is about the Burnham clubs’ social responsibility to help curtail the spread of the virus.

“Although we were determined to hold off with the decision as long as possible, we were always concerned about how we could run the event as normal yet as safe as possible,” said Buckley.

“Anyone who has ever attended Burnham Week will know it is all about social interaction. As well as the racing, Burnham Week is renowned for its fun party atmosphere with functions such as cocktail parties, class dinners, dances and prizegivings running at all three Burnham clubs throughout the week.

“It is no great surprise therefore that with guidelines still in place it would be impossible to regulate, particularly in close-quarter crewing situations while racing.”


As sailing seeks to be a leader in ocean health, the format for organized racing defines whether the sport can also be a leader in managing the spread of this global disease.

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