WHAT ARE WE DOING? (Update 3 June 20)
As our country negotiates the complex recovery phase of this pandemic I and the team at Elite Sailing would like to extend our best wishes to you – our customers – as you weather the storm. Thank you for your understanding and support at this challenging time.
As you know, Government regulations have compelled us to suspend all practical sailing and face to face classroom courses since March. As we emerge from lockdown we have been examining every aspect of government regulation and advice and considering measures and options for a safe restart. The primary question has been: ‘When can we resume practical training courses and classroom courses?’ Well, we have some positive news at last.
Dawn Light on the Horizon
On 1 June, the Government guidance for training/coaching in sport and recreation changed and now allows training/coaching outdoors of groups up to 6 (including the instructor) and with social distancing measures in place. We have completed a Covid 19 risk assessment and are now formulating detailed policies for working, sailing and training in the new normality of Covid 19. This assessment and policy will be published on this page by Friday 5 June.
Accordingly we have decided to restart practical training courses with effect from Monday 15 June.
Unfortunately we will still not be permitted to run normal classroom training or any sailing activity involving overnight stays aboard yachts. We hope that these will become possible from early July.
We will all still have to live and work taking account of social distancing requirements with 2 metres from others not in the same household and of course other hygiene and risk mitigation measures.
Practical Training Courses
We have postponed all training courses and events that were scheduled up until 14 June and given early warning to some customers with bookings after that that their courses and sailings may be postponed. We are not cancelling any of these courses or events. We are or may be postponing them and have every intention to run them all as soon as government regulations and safety permit.
Today we will complete drafting a provisional programme of practical sail and motor courses and events starting from 15 June. Tomorrow 4 June we will begin to contact individuals to reschedule their postponed bookings. We will do this in the order of the original booking date and in every case we will be very flexible in finding dates that we can deliver and that are agreeable to customers. For customers with bookings after 15 June, we intend and expect to keep those bookings unchanged but there may be a few cases where some change may be desirable. So we will be contacting everyone to agree and confirm dates.
Although we are positive about this restart, we must all accept that there are still risks. Courses run as day time only and with social distancing will seem very different and we will need everyone to play a part in keeping things as safe as possible. We will ask customers to self-declare their health status prior to sailing and affirm that they understand and accept the safety measures we will have in place. There is also a finite risk of further postponement due to a range of potential Covid 19 events. Examples are government regulation to re-impose restrictions or an instructor or customer developing symptoms or having to self isolate due to contact with an infected person. So we will have to be flexible and accept such postponement without undue penalty to any party. Our terms and conditions will include an added endorsement to that effect.
Private Tuition and Own Boat Instruction
Our instructors are available now for private tuition in small groups either on our yachts or yours. These can be arranged in compliance with social distancing and other measures to achieve safety. So if you just want coaching in boat handling, navigation, radar operation etc or a full RYA course or ICC assessment just call us or email.
Adventure Sailing and Around Britain
The situation concerning the Around Britain sailing is particularly complicated. The first Around Britain programme (17 Apr to 3 Jun) was postponed in late March and all affected customers were informed. In April we gave customers on Around Britain 2 (12 Jun to 29 Jul) trips early warning of possible postponement and offered customers the option to postpone regardless until a much later date – perhaps in 2021 – to eliminate the near-term uncertainty. At that time we assumed that Around Britain 3 (7 Aug to 30 Sep) could go ahead as planned.
We are now hopeful that we will be able to resume adventure sailing in July (ie after the Government’s Step 3). We have now reviewed the whole programme for 2020 and we are considering several options for a new provisional schedule. These include running 2 or possibly 3 full around Britain trips with the same length and content, possibly sequentially or overlapping using a second yacht, with bookings consolidated where necessary. We will seek the views of everyone who may be affected before deciding on a particular plan. We hope to complete this exercise and have a provisional plan (subject to government regulation) in place by 12 June.
Fast Track Yachtmaster Courses
Fast Track 1/2020 which started in early March has been suspended and we intend that it will resume soon after Government regulations and advice allow. Students have been informed. Fast Track 2/2020 scheduled to start on 3 May has also been postponed. At the moment we are assuming that Fast Track 3/2020 scheduled to start on 28 June will run – although we may have to reschedule it to fall in line with a rescheduled around Britain programme. In coordination with the around Britain programme we are considering options for this and we will consult everyone affected before deciding on a particular plan. We hope to complete this exercise and have a provisional plan (subject to government regulation) in place by 12 June.
Shore-Based Classroom Courses
We now estimate that government regulation might allow us to restart classroom courses from 4 July. These will have to comply strictly with social distancing requirements so numbers are likely to be limited to 4, possibly 5 students. By 15 June we aim to publish a provisional new schedule for VHF, Radar, Diesel and First Aid. Day Skipper and Yachtmaster Theory courses are running successfully online and this will continue for the forseeable future. We will consider running classroom courses for these subjects starting in September but we think that the online (Hybrid) courses will become the most popular option in future.
Now is the perfect time to get that Day Skipper theory course done – or tackle the challenge of a Coastal Skipper and Yachtmaster theory course. If you are in isolation yet still feel well, you will never have a better opportunity to improve your professional knowledge. We have been running these distance learning courses successfully for many years. And now we are offering full hybrid day skipper and yachtmaster theory courses based on home study and online video teaching and tutorial sessions via the Zoom platform. These have proved to be a great success with the video sessions enhancing contact with instructors and other students and bringing distance learning to life. Full details here.
For absolute beginners, sailors who want to progress but don’t feel ready yet to tackle the day skipper theory course, or anyone waiting to do a competent crew course, there is an excellent introductory RYA course called ‘Essential Navigation and Seamanship‘. Its available on-line using the RYA website and costs only £99. You can enrol through Elite Sailing and we’ll send you the necessary supplementary materials by post. Its a great way to enhance your knowledge and enjoyment of sail or motor cruising. Full details here.
Everyone can go boating now provided that either you are in a household group or, if people are from different households, groups are 6 or less and social distancing is in effect. Our yachts Spirit, Spitfire and Javelin are available to sail now and Chatham Marina is open! So if you are a club member you can fill your boots! And if you are not a club member why not join now? We will shortly review membership fees and club charter rates but in the meantime the published fees and rates on the website remain valid. If you have at least day skipper and want to become a skipper member we can still give you a 1 to 1 checkout.
Better Times Ahead
To all our customers who have suffered postponed bookings, we do appreciate the disruption this process is causing and are truly grateful to all of you for your patience and forbearance as we work through the complicated process of rebooking your courses and events.
To potential new customers, we are looking forward to better times ahead. There is still a lot of summer left. We are taking new provisional bookings now for practical courses (sail and motor) and we’ll soon have a new schedule for adventure sailing. If you want to discuss a new booking or just consider your options please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office on 01634 890 512. Nicole, Dave or Fred will be happy to help you and you can even reserve places on future events but without deposit until they are confirmed.
We will continue to review the position and update this notice at least weekly.
We hope you stay safe!
1 June 2020