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Don't let it get to you, go for a sail

by Mark Jardine 16 Mar 2020 00:00 PDT
Finn Spring Series Christchurch Sailing Club day 1 © Paul Butler

There is no doubt we're going through a very difficult time due to the COVID-19 disease. Our way of life is having to change and sports events around the world are being cancelled by the hour.

On Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com last week it felt like we ran more news about events which weren't happening than those that were. There's also no doubt that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.

In amongst the news of cancellations, there have been the very welcome sight of reports from local club events and series coming in. Here in the UK we're getting the first glimpses of spring after a miserable winter of storms put paid to most sailing, and the dinghy scene is waking up for the season ahead. We were lucky that the RYA Dinghy Show was held when it was - if it was just a week or so later then, in all likelihood, it would have joined the list of shows and events postponed or cancelled.

Going out for a sail is, without doubt, the best way to cast the worries of the world away. Other people may have their own opinion on this, but frankly, they're wrong - being out on the water wins every time. The stresses of everyday life melt away and you can truly be 'in the moment'.

As the Coronavirus takes hold and our day-to-day life becomes more restricted, we are going to get stressed. This is where I believe local club sailing could really play its part. When we're in our sailing dinghies we are mostly well over a couple of metres from our nearest competitors, but can still interact with them in a friendly and social manner. The post-race bar chat may be off the cards, but we're all going to need something to relieve stress in these times.

Local club racing, and the structure that clubs provide is at long last being recognised by the RYA with the revamped British Youth Sailing programme having the ultimate goal of encouraging more young sailors to take up and stay in the sport. These changes have been devised to address challenges facing the sport including declining participation at club level, increasing regional disparity, an over-emphasis on results in junior age groups and the increasing costs and environmental impact of training and racing nationally at a young age. Just last week I chatted with Steve Cockerill about his own youth club sailing and he was all for the changes which are being implemented. If you've got 33 minutes to spare then I highly recommend watching the video interview.

I went out for my first races of the new season at Keyhaven Yacht Club in the UK on Sunday and it felt so good to get away from it all for a couple of hours. This could be the time to reconnect with your local club, get back out in the boat you've got in the dinghy park and enjoy some time on the water. It doesn't have to be for racing, a casual sail can provide you with just the same escape.

The message is simple: If you're feeling stressed, go for a sail.

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