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In this together

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 12 Jul 15:00 PDT
Sandringham Yacht Club © Colin Bransgrove

Australia has been fortunate to have recorded a much lower fatality rate than many other jurisdictions in this most saddening of times. Yet we have just been so swiftly reminded of what this nastiest of minute pests with no brain at all can achieve when the genie gets out of the bottle, as it were.

We all wish the Victorians the speediest possible journey to the other side of their second lockdown, whatever that may eventuate to be. It could so easily be any of us, with Singapore, and certain parts of Spain and England serving as super-poignant reminders as to both the speed and magnitude that it can all go South on us.

From the micro level of say employment for individuals, to macroeconomics on a global scale, we are all in this together. Now the ultra-modern version of Klemens Wenzel Furst von Metternich's original, Napoleonic era phrase is, 'China sneezes and the world catches a cold'. It would seem that this latest iteration, or even its earlier versions have never been more critical to remember and abide by on social, economic, and even cultural grounds.

So we could say we need to link arms and be a chain, but alas that is way, way, way out of the question, so we need to find new ways to show strength and deploy the might of human will. Way back on March 22, in what seriously seems like a parallel universe right now, we ran Man the galley! In that missive we stated, "We will continue to find the positive elements for all of us as sailors and members of the industry to reflect upon, and utilise them for strength in this troubling time."

One man and his club were keen to help with that. Richard Hewett, the CEO of the Sandringham Yacht Club (Sandy or SYC). Given Victoria has gone back under lockdown, and whimsical images like having the Australian mainland cast off Victoria into the Southern Ocean and replace it with Tasmania into the now vacant space get circulated widely, it seemed the right thing to go back and talk with Richard once more. Especially so, as they had really only 'just' re-opened their doors after a prolonged spell on the sidelines.

"We had enjoyed having 600 people a week through the building (Ed. the Taj as she is lovingly referred to). That's 3000 through in the first five weeks, and it was only possible through stringent use of contract tracing. The big dampner is that there were two weeks when we were not allowed to have 50 in a room. Then we went to 150, all in different rooms, before this latest closure, and that was a genuine buzz", said Hewett.

The Ken King Centre between the clubhouse and marina (known to many as the speed hump) is still doing take away food, and importantly, serving as a centre for connection hub for people. Indeed Sandy's chef is still doing prepared meals for members, and the club's suppliers are still actively offering wonderful deals on everything from steak to wine. All is not lost...

Off The Beach is an option, as too is shorthanded, but demand is a bit low given the time of year, and their location closer to the 38th than 37th parallel, and right on the lee shore of the predominant SW breeze. "We've had pretty good winter weather so far, and our staff had been put to good use, including some holiday programmes. Recreational sailing is available, but watching the members helping members has been a highlight", added Hewett.

Yes. You get the feeling that Sandy have run a sail under the hull, and put life jackets (not PFDs) and sea rugs in the hole. Pan. Pan. Not Mayday...

"The good thing about this lockdown is that members can continue to use their boats. It is a positive difference. The first one was very panicky. This one felt a bit weird - like we'd been here before and were kind of expecting it. It is good to keep both the marina and boat yard open, as too the launch ramp. OTB is still singlehanded or double if it is the same family. It is just about four months since we went keel boat racing, and it'll be another two to three before we can go again."

"October is our Open Day, and this could be exactly when that happens. We are looking at maybe delaying it a little to ensure we can make it happen - we'll see. Yet the big one has got to be the Job Keeper (Federal Government assistance package) announcements July 23. If they extend it, and we qualify, then great, for we have 60 staff under this programme. Otherwise we have to look at what can achieve. The cold hard reality is that 'September cliff', when it all runs out."

"Our members have been very loyal, and not a single one has cancelled so far. Our renewals happen in just three weeks, however, so that too will be another part of the mix. We are offering a 25% discount for the next year. Those that can pay in full will be able to use that 25% as a tax deduction."

Hewett has also been speaking with colleagues in Hong Kong and Perth who report that their mid-week fleets bigger than ever, having come back with a vengeance. Hong Kong in particular reports that their patronage is drawn to the club, the community. This is certainly where we all need to focus on - the places we know, love, are attached to, are clean, and safe.

Sandy updates this page regularly for its members with all the latest intel. Good luck and best wishes to Sandy, and all clubs facing hardship and uncertainty.

Our Managing Editor in England, Mark Jardine, reported that, "Yesterday we ran our first junior sailing session of the year at Keyhaven. It was just about perfect. We're looking at increasing the number we do, as it's so over-subscribed." BTW, a look at the names driving the Coaches' Boats is enough to make you wish you could put a crew together for a major race. There are some benefits to all the pros and legends being shore bound...

Please remember that wherever we can we need to be happy with what we can get, for the alternatives are not too savoury at all...

Right oh - there is plenty of information on the site for you to review when you can. Please avail yourself of it.

Now if your class or association is generating material, we can help you spread your word just by emailing us. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

Finally, thank you for keeping a weather eye on Sail-World. Your increased patronage and sensational, heartfelt comments have made our crew work even harder to bring you the best from all over the globe...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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