Dinghy Sailing in the Covid-19 Era

Perfect July conditions in Rye Bay

The Winter Dinghy Racing series ended on March 15 with Mark Whiteman taking the trophy and Club Commodore Eric Zon taking second place. Continuing to sail over the winter is a relatively new initiative and, as things have turned out in 2020, one that the club has been pleased to adopt.

Mere days later the country went into lockdown and the Harbour Master announced that the slipway was closed. As we all isolated in a glorious spring and early summer, the sailors amongst us turned our thoughts to the near perfect conditions for sailing that were being missed. During this time, the club house was shut, freezers and fridges emptied and turned off, and water heating shut down – all that was missing was for tumbleweed to be seen gently blowing across the boat park.

Simon Marsh trying to keep his dinghy on an even keel racing on the River Rother.

By late May, the restrictions had relaxed enough that sailing could take place without using the club house and double handed dinghies had to be crewed from the same household. With the relaxation of the rules, a tsunami of sailors has descended on the water (but maintaining a social distance). One change since March is the near completion of the visitor centre on Rye Nature Reserve, and if the wind is in the wrong direction, it causes a wind shadow giving sailors something else to think about when selecting the best course to sail.

Initially we didn’t race, and the complete Summer Series 1 was missed (the trophy winner for 2020 will be inscribed as Covid-19). One great sadness this year is that we were unable to open our doors to the general public in the Royal Yacht Club initiative to “Discover Sailing” as it is always a popular event with the public and club members alike.

Glass half full though, we have seen two hundred and eight adults sailing along with thirteen under 18s and forty-two helping out with safety, running races or general support since July. It has been noted that parking in the boat park is not as easy as it once was – a nice problem to have, and we hope to build on the enthusiasm generated this year – we do seem to be attracting new members who are enthused by the friendly atmosphere of the club.

Racing re-commenced at the end of July starting with our annual “Fizz” race; the prize being a bottle of champagne. This was won by Scott Wilkinson (previous U15 World Champion in the Topper Dinghy category); this year he has reached his eighteenth birthday and so was allowed to keep the prize.

We are hoping that the sailing will continue to be allowed and that the large numbers who have been having fun on the water will look to partake in races too. What has been reinforced over this time is just what a friendly, helpful, and forward-looking bunch the club members are.

Image Credits: John Powell .


  1. It is goodto be sailing again thanks to All at the Club for making it happen. It is the best sailing you can do if a little challenging at times!


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