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What next?

by Mark Jardine 27 Apr 22:00 BST
A late April morning at Hurst Castle, looking towards the Solent © Mark Jardine

The pandemic news has flowed in waves around the world. Talk of first infection rates, then lockdowns, strategies, vaccines and very sadly the deaths. This seems to be the week of 'What next?'.

In the UK we are speculating as to what might happen, but Australians are welcoming moves by Queensland and Western Australia to loosen the restrictions on recreational boating following encouraging signs of containment.

As Darren Vaux, Boating Industry Association President, said: "Recreational boating out in the fresh air and sunshine is good for mental and physical health and is a low-risk activity that a family can easily do whilst adhering to social distancing and hygiene rules.

"Governments recognise that getting out on the water is a way of life for many Australians and it is estimated more than 20 per cent of all Australians engage in some form of boating activity annually.

"It was good to see Queensland enable households to travel 50km from home for recreational boating, especially as 85 per cent of the population live within 50km of the coast. This adds to the existing permitted uses of fishing, paddle and sail craft in that State for exercise.

"In WA, the State Government has also said, based on health advice, they can cautiously relax the number for indoor and outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, while practising social distancing.

"Reactivating a low-risk activity like boating will start to repair the boating industry which is closely aligned to tourism and is hurting with staff layoffs and business closures as a result of COVID-19."

There is no doubt that the world is watching strategies taken by other countries and hopefully learning from what works and doesn't work.

I had a good chat with Andy Rice on Monday, which will be available to view on and on Tuesday or Wednesday depending on your time zone, where we discussed how sailing might be possible in the age of social distancing. While recognising that very few situations are 100% safe, sailing would seem to be a pastime which can adapt. Dinghies for example are most often sailed by one or two people, reducing risk, and perhaps upper wind-limits could be introduced to reduce the need for rescue boat cover. Rescue boats could be crewed as much as possible by members of the same family. These are just ideas, but our national governing bodies are actively discussing how to move forwards.

In the meantime, eSailing has taken off in a big way. Our livestream coverage of The Lockdown Cup proved immensely popular, pitting the top British Sailing Team and UK amateur champions against competition winners. We're of course not stopping here, with more events on the horizon, including The Lockdown Ashes. The best that Australia has to offer, including the likes of Tom Slingsby and Tom Burton, against British sailors such as Lockdown Cup champion Luke Patience and fellow Olympian Ben Saxton. While this is intended to be 'just a bit of friendly racing', the competition is bound to be fierce!

Lockdown has provided us with a moment's pause from many things in our day-to-day lives, and David Henshall's latest article 'The Greed for Speed' has given us many things to think about. The readership on this article has been exceptional, being accessed four times every second since it was put live.

One of the most exciting initiatives we've launched in April is 'Happy Hour with Stretch and Stirfry'. This light-hearted podcast is giving us a real insight into the lives and thoughts of some of the top personalities in the world of sailing. I highly recommend a listen to our first two episodes with Ian Walker and Luke Patience.

Like so many parts of our lives, we don't know exactly what's coming next, but our aim is to keep sailing at the forefront. Thank you for your visits to and, your interaction, your contribution and your support - it means so much to our team and is what drives us to do more.

Take care & stay safe.

Mark Jardine & Managing Editor

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