Here's what 2021 has in store.
We’re changing tack here in Dún Laoghaire! We focussing now on what we can do, rather than what we cannot. At the heart of everything we’ll continue to do is the basic principle of keeping everyone safe, both staff and students as well as the wider community. Going afloat should never be built on short term, opportunistic actions and this approach has served us well so far dealing with COVID-19.
So, what are we going to do? We’ve broken down our actions into Adult and Children’s programmes.
From Monday the 26th of April our schools sailing programmes will be getting back underway for Transition Year students to get a bit of time afloat before the end of the school term. Our Junior Club Saturday Sailing Programme will recommence on Saturday the 1st of May, however, places will be limited to those who attended our November/December Term as we’ll be restarting a stringent COVID-19 prevention protocol and this group are well used to the measures in place.
Summer Sailing – 7-17 Years
We are thrilled to be able to run our Summer programmes for 7-17 year olds again this Summer. Last year was exceptionally rewarding, and since then we’ve made even more improvements to the courses with the additional of 30 new dinghies, additional covered outdoor space and new training modules for our instructors which we think will allow us to offer the best Summer courses we’ve ever run.
While many of these measures are designed to cope with the COVID-19 environment, they’re also going to be hugely useful in the months and years ahead. Strangely COVID-19 has forced us to make significant investment much more quickly than we had anticipated, but we’re focussing on the great benefits and opportunities these will present.
Course places are being calculated to work with the various restrictions there may be. We’ll be opening bookings later in April/early May. We’ll let parents from 2020 know as well as those who’ve asked to be notified of the bookings opening in advance. We want to flag a course price increase, one that truth be told was scheduled to come in last year but was delayed for the obvious reason. We’re confident the slight increase in course fees will more than be made up for in an even better Summer of sailing.
Parents who want to be notified of the Summer Bookings opening should email complete this form.
Summer Sea Explorers – 4-6 Years
The central part of our 2021 plan is to be conservative with activities and ensure that we can keep everyone safe. Unfortunately, the 4-6 year old programme presents a logistical challenge that means we won’t be running the programme in June or July this Summer. A limited programme is being planned for August, however, we won’t be opening bookings for this until later in the Summer. If it becomes possible to run the programme in July, we’ll of course let everyone know, but everything we’ll be doing with all programmes will be exceptionally cautious.
Junior Club Summer Terms
We normally wrap up the Junior Club early in May each year, however, due to lost weekends last year we ran the programme in June and its was exceptionally successful. As we’re expecting this Summer to be similar to last year we’re going to continue the Junior Club Saturday Sailing through the Summer. Hopefully breaks around the country will be possible so we’ll have an inventive way of ensuring you’re only paying for the dates your child can make.
This is one of the exciting projects for 2021, with instructors already developing plans to cater to sailors who want to keep in touch with friends on the weekends as well as developing further advanced coaching modules for those keen to push on even more.
The Summer Terms will be open to all sailors who’ve attended a course in the previous year.
While children re-start outdoor sports training on the 26th of April a date for adults to restart training activities has not been announced. We want to try to get ahead of the reactive cancellation of courses each time there’s an extension or announcement on restrictions and provide as much certainty as possible. Therefore, we’re setting a new kick off date for all adult training from Monday the 24th of May. The decision was based again on a conservative outlook, but it means programmes are more likely to go ahead, and of course if restrictions don’t allow a programme run we’ll refund or reschedule your booking, whichever you prefer.
Powerboat and Dinghy Courses
We’ll be restarting these courses from Monday 24th May. We’ve just taken delivery of a fleet of new RS Zests which will allow for single handed training courses for adults to run with plenty of distance between everyone afloat. We’re also very fortunate to have some of the largest powerboats for training purposes in the country, allowing us to safely re-commence training while maintaining social distancing on the boats.
Competent Crew and Day Skipper
These courses will re-start from the 24th of May, subject to restrictions, operating exclusively on deck, with only one person below decks at anyone time and no overnights. We’ll be building on our COVID measures for these boats for the Summer as social distancing and precautions are likely to remain.
Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster Courses
Unfortunately, there’s no safe way to run these courses as they consist of longer passages requiring overnights and keep people in contact with one another for too long a time. Therefore, we feel the safe and responsible way to proceed is to schedule these courses to resume from late August, when hopefully the vaccination programme will be mostly complete and a sense of normality has resumed.
Summer Training Cruises
Like the Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster courses, the safest course of action is to defer these programmes for 2021. We expect there’ll be a lot of disappointment in this decision, but we can’t justify the risk with the more transmittable variant now in Ireland.
Unlike the larger yachts where social distancing can be maintained at all times, the keelboats don’t allow for this fully. Therefore we’re going to kick off keelboat courses in July, approximately Level 2 measures. We feel it’s the safest way of restarting these courses and are comfortable that this is the best approach. While we’d technically be permitted to start in higher levels, waiting a bit longer is in line with the approach we’ve taken thus far.
Boating is about taking safety precautions and avoiding risks where possible, and we’ve applied this principle to dealing with COVID-19. The shorebased training programme has been deferred to later in the year and will restart with small group numbers when indoor training becomes safe once again.
Again 2021 will be very different from a normal year, and there’ll be a lot we can’t do. However, rather than trying to squeeze programmes into various regulations, we’re going to focus again this year on what is possible, and be frank about it. Sailors and boaters can still do an awful lot – we can’t wait to just get back afloat and passing on the love of the water, which for us will be more than enough.
Until we can get back afloat, stay safe and we’re looking forward to seeing people back out on Dublin bay enjoying themselves when its safe to do so.