Fun is not cancelled. Sail Newport’s Regatta Director Matt Duggan on the state of regattas in Newport amid COVID-19…
How did COVID-19 effect the 2020 Sail Newport summer so far?
The beginning of the summer definitely brought a lot of uncertainty about what the summer was going to look like. COVID-19 impacted our early season and will have lasting impacts throughout the summer.
We worked closely with Department of Environmental Management, the State of RI and the Governor’s office to get clarity on what we’d be able to do. Early on it looked like small regattas with single-handed boats or same-household crews only.
We staggered arrival times for rental boats, staggered launching times with social distancing of six feet while on land to ensure that our people were safe for our regattas. We have 16 race days in June, which is incredible considering what everything looked like.
Once we got word that we could expand racing outside of same-household competitors, then crews up to 15 people were allowed. That ease of restrictions opened up what types of boats we can include. We can’t have a traditional Newport Regatta where we traditionally have 600 people on-site, so we came up with the plan to schedule the regatta into three events over three different weekends.
The new plan allows us to get almost all Newport Regatta classes racing on one weekend, but with a different look. The most significant change is the restriction on social events. For competitors, this means arriving at the dock, getting on the boat, and then going racing. After racing, all competitors then go home.
We understand we can’t make things happen the way we used to, but we want to give sailors as much opportunity to get out on the water to go racing. On August 1 and 2, we have invited the Melges 20 and Melges 24 classes. A few weeks later, on August 29 and 30, we will run the last weekend of the regatta for dinghies and sport boat classes including VX One, Lasers, F-18s, Thistles, and 505s.
We are excited and thrilled that we can create opportunities to race this year. We wish it could be more, but we have to continue to work responsibly within the rules to make sure that every little bit that we’re doing isn’t stepping too far forward in the grand scheme of the COVID-19 pandemic. And with that said, it could all change tomorrow.
The early sailing season at Sail Newport was significantly impacted by COVID-19, what were you able to host?
The first regatta we held in June was Monday Night Madness single-handed Laser racing with 24 boats. Sail Newport has a large fleet of Laser sailors with Fleet 413. They keep their boats here all winter and spring for frostbiting. In the summer, those sailors usually move on and sail other boats, but there wasn’t much opportunity because of so many regattas and sailing series cancelled. – Read on.