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Shift to Code Red status should require minimal change to allow sailing events to continue.

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz 23 Jan 04:21 UTC 23 January 2022
Doyle Sails Evening Race - Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, January 19, 2021 © Richard Gladwell - Sail-World.com/nz

Sailing events should be able to continue with minor changes, to allow a busy summer of sailing to continue under newly declared Red status declared today, to retard the spread of the Omicron COVID virus.

Two major regattas, the Mahurangi Classic Yacht Regatta, and Auckland Anniversary Regatta will proceed this weekend, as planned, with some minor changes.

Although out of the country, Yachting NZ CEO David Abercrombie told Sail-World.com by txt on Friday, in response to a query about the effect of NZ moving to RED status, that "realistically we should be able to proceed with planned events as long as we stay under the 100 limit. This may mean we have to split fleets, but it is important to keep the kids sailing."

Abercrombie added that it was "important to stress the need for all participants to be vaccinated, as an unvaccinated event can only have 25 people. One jab,or a negative PCR test still does not substitute for being double vaccinated. This will now have a greater impact on club activities," he added.

NZ Government sport-specific guidance can be viewed by clicking here. Specific guidance for "Outdoor water-based activities at Red" is contained on page 12.

Under Water based activities at RED the guidance, for vaccinated events states: "Multiple groups can participate in an outdoor water-based activity if the groups can remain separated by 2 metres at all times."

For unvaccinated events: "Attendees do not have to physically distance from others in their group; Multiple groups can participate in an outdoor water-based activity if they can remain separated by 2 metres at all times."

The only issue would appear to be ashore at Briefings, which are subject, for vaccinated participants to a maximum of 100 people (excluding sailors under the age of 12 yrs). However under the Rules of Racing, attendance at regatta briefings is not mandatory, and information given at Briefings carries no weight in a protest situation. Many sailing events have covered regatta restrictions/information at online briefings by holding these ahead of the event on Zoom, or Youtube, or similar.

However it may be possible for an event of more than 100 competitors to still to gather ashore under the "Defined Space" rules - as advised on Sunday's media conference by Minister of Sport, Grant Robertson. "It is possible using the Defined Space rules to effectively have pods of less than 100 people, as long as they can keep separated from one another, and come in and out of a venue separately," Robertson said in response to a question about the viability of the Womens World Cricket Cup, due to take place in April 2022.

Despite Robertson's suggested work-around, arrangements may need to be put in place covering social distancing requirements at launching and retrieval, however this is reasonably straight forward if common-sense is used.

In mid-December Yachting New Zealand published guidance for Event Organisers and Competitors which contains several links to allow quick event assessment under the COVID Protection Framework, announced a week earlier.

See www.yachtingnz.org.nz/news/your-regatta-event-or-gathering

This information will be updated if further guidance is received.

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