2021 – Spring is here and we’ll be sailing again soon.

(Update 5 March 2021)

National Lockdown 3 and suspension of all face to face training activity at Elite Sailing continues.  This applies to all routine outdoor practical training and shore-based classroom training.  There are a few limited exceptions around training for vocational education purposes and private tuition.  Meanwhile distance learning and online theory courses are continuing at a good pace.

Following the Government roadmap announcement we plan to restart practical sailing from Monday 29 March.  Read on for more detail.

The government publication (on 22 February) of the roadmap document ‘Covid 19 Response – Spring 2021’ brought better clarity on the way ahead.  Although questions remain, there are reasons to be optimistic.  The earliest date for resumption of routine practical courses for motor and sail is clearly 29 March 2021 and from that date we will run a continuous series of weekends and 5-day courses.  Actually we have yachts and skippers ready and eager to resume operations as soon as it is both safe enough and within the law and government guidance.  So if  the date was to come forward we could start.   But in the meantime we are accepting bookings for all dates for practical courses from 29 March.  And we are contacting everyone with bookings prior to 29 March to discuss and agree postponements on a fully-flexible basis.  If you are affected by this you should have received an email from us already.

The situation with classroom courses is less clear but in parallel with non-essential retail, gyms, hairdressers schools and colleges we now plan to resume classroom courses for VHF, Diesel, first aid and radar from 12 April.

Unfortunately the Government roadmap will not allow multiple household groups to share accommodation aboard until 17 May.  So all adventure sailing and milebuilder sailing in 2021 has now been rescheduled.  See below.

Covid Risk Assessments, Measures and Terms and Conditions

In compliance with government regulation and guidance we completed Risk Assessments for each type of activity and formulated detailed measures to minimize risks and comply with Covid-Secure guidelines.  Our Covid 19 risk assessment valid up until November 2020 is available here.  Covid Safety Measures for each type of course or activity are set out in separate documents and links to these are shown at the foot of this page.  The risk assessments and measures for all activities will be reviewed again before we resume operations from the end of March.

All bookings are subject to our Additional T&Cs During Covid.   If you pay a deposit in the normal way you can secure a place and know that, if we are compelled to postpone an event due to covid or if you cannot attend due to covid, you can postpone freely to any later available and acceptable date.

Practical Training

We plan to resume all standard practical courses with effect from 29 March and from then will sail every week and every weekend.

The government’s roadmap at Step 1 (8 March to 11 April) does not permit overnight stays away from home or mixing of households.  Step 2 (from 12 April) does permit overnight stays but only for single households or bubbles.  Step 3 permits shared multi-household accommodation aboard.  So all RYA training courses will run as non-residential with yachts returning to the marina at the end of each day, eliminating the requirement to stay overnight (although variations in the start and finish times will allow some night sailing when required).  Customers are free to go home and return to the yacht the next morning.  From 29 March until 11 April no overnight accommodation can be offered at the marina.  From 12 April we will be able to offer cabin accommodation to customers who can’t or don’t want to travel daily.  We have a limited number of cabins available on yachts – bookable in advance and subject to conditions.

The following additional rules and procedures will apply to practical training courses:

  1. We will sail with crews of up to 5 people plus the instructor
  2. For some day sailing trips on a larger yacht we may operate with up to 6 crew on deck.
  3. During training we will not allow more than a single household below deck at one time.
  4. We will not allow the preparation of communal meals aboard.
  5. Wet weather clothing hire will be available with sanitisation measures between users but on a strict advance booking basis.
  6. Cabins will only be made available (on a pre-booking basis) if government regulations permit such overnight stays.
  7. Customers will be required to self declare their covid health status beforehand and will be temperature tested on arrival.  No other Covid testing is planned for courses of 5 days duration or less.

Despite these restrictions and complications the practical training courses in 2020 ran very well indeed and we expect the same in 2021.  And interestingly the change to day sailing has increased the intensity and effectiveness of training – especially for competent crew and day skipper students.

Eventually we all look forward to a time when social distancing measures can be eased and we can return to residential training courses.  However, we do not expect conditions to reach this stage until late May at the earliest.

Milebuilders

We have cancelled all milebuilder sailings planned for January through to April.  We will soon schedule a new series of traditional weekend milebuilders from late May.  We are also considering a new programme of short, non-stop, milebuilders of less than 24 hours during April and early May.

For Covid safety measures see the links at the foot of this page.

Shorebased Training

We plan to resume classroom training for VHF, First Aid, Diesel Engine and First Aid with very small numbers and social distancing with effect from 12 April.  Dates are on the relevant web pages and and we are taking bookings subject to the terms and conditions explained above.

Day Skipper and Yachtmaster Shore-based courses have not yet resumed in the classroom.  The reason is that home study and hybrid courses with video classes using the Zoom platform have been very popular, are a very effective replacement for the classroom and they have almost zero Covid risk.  Nevertheless people do value the human contact and unique quality of a classroom course so we are considering re-introducing classes for small groups from June 2021

For Covid safety measures see the links at the foot of this page.

 Adventure Sailing and Around Britain

To comply with Government regulations concerning sharing of accommodation spaces we have cancelled some early adventure sailing events up to and including Easter and postponed the start of around Britain sailing by 4 weeks to May.  But we still plan to sail 3 complete circumnavigations of the UK.  Obviously we have to address the potential complications of  varying covid regulations in the different jurisdictions of England, Scotland, N Ireland, Wales as well as the possible travel restrictions between UK and Ireland, France and Belgium.  We hope that many of these restrictions will be lifted by the time we might encounter them from the end of May onwards.  But in case restrictions still apply we have alternative plans to operate within UK waters.  The new Around Britain programmes are here:

Sail around Britain with Elite Sailing

Elite Sailing Adventures

With places already taken by people who postponed from 2020 and lots of new bookings these trips could quickly sell out.  So if you are thinking of joining one of these amazing adventures in 2021 don’t prevaricate!

For Covid safety measures see the links at the foot of this page.

Fast Track Yachtmaster Courses

All scheduled fast track courses in 2020 were postponed and all students have now agreed with us other arrangements to complete courses.  A full programme of 3 YM Fast Track (Sail) courses for 2021 has been scheduled.  Details are here:  Fast Track

Training Courses for Vocational Purposes

During the National Lockdown there is an exemption that allows training related to preparation and qualifications required for work.  In general this would permit courses directly leading to a Yachtmaster certificate of competence or instructor qualification.  So if you are in this category and need assistance please call us to discuss what we can do.

Bookings Postponed Due to Covid

From the outset of the pandemic we contacted all customers progressively and informed them of the postponement of their courses and the options that were available.  We are very grateful for the patience and forbearance of our customers as we worked through this process at an extremely difficult time for the business.  We appreciate the disruption and inconvenience that the whole episode has caused – not least because the stop – start situation has caused second and third postponements..  We have now reached a stage where almost all customers with postponed bookings have either already completed their courses or events or have agreed new dates in 2021.  We are aware of a very small number of people (eg some who booked milebuilders) where we have so far been unable to schedule substitute dates.  We will now focus on these remaining outstanding requirements and contact the individuals concerned.  If you had a booking with us and feel that we have not yet addressed the problem yet please do get in touch to make sure that we have you on the list.

Better Times Ahead

Lockdown 3 has been a hard blow for many of us.  For now we can only do our bit to minimise transmission and prepare for an effective re-start from 29 March.  But  we are optimistic for the future and are looking forward to the spring and a great sailing season ahead.

I and the team at Elite Sailing would like to extend our best wishes to all of you. Thank you all for your understanding and support throughout this challenging year.  Notwithstanding the circumstances we hope you can negotiate the current Lockdown safely and cheerfully and 2021 brings you all that you wish.

To potential new customers, we are still very much in business and despite the continuing restrictions we expect to resume all our courses from 29 March.  If you want to discuss a new booking or just consider your options please email info@elitesailing.co.uk or call the office on 01634 890 512.  Nicole, Dave or Fred will be happy to help you.

Situation Updates

We will continue to review the position and update this notice regularly.

We hope you stay safe!

Dave Allan

5 March 2021

Useful Links:

Additional T&Cs During Covid

Covid Measures – Practical Training

Covid Measures – Milebuilders

Packing List for Day Sailing

Packing List – Milebuilders

Covid Measures – Classroom Courses

Covid Measures – Adventure Sailing