Return to Sailing FAQs

The following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been put together to assist clubs, centres, classes and individuals in support of the Return to Sailing Scheme , and the most recent Government Roadmap for Reopening Ireland. Irish Sailing will continue to review the Government guidance as more detail becomes available.  

These are questions that have come from Irish Sailing clubs, centres, classes and members. The answers below are a guidance on how we may return to our sports. By working together and using the Return to Sailing Scheme principles sensibly and responsibly, we can make sure that our return to the water is safe for all.

If your questions are not answered here, please email

This is a Live Page that will be updated regularly, FAQs were last updated on 13 May 2020 10.00hrs.

Personal Questions

  1. When can I start working on my boat? 
    In Phase 1 commencing Monday 18th of May, boat yards, marinas, and other marine leisure business open to facilitate essential maintenance, lifting and security of boats. Marina staff and other outdoor maintenance staff return to work. If you live within 5kms you should be able to work on your boat.
  2. When can I launch my boat?
    In Phase 1 commencing Monday 18th May, people are permitted to engage in outdoor sporting and fitness activities either individually or in household groups not more than 5 km from your home to your launch site/boat.
  3. When can I go sailing?
    Provided the current Irish Coast Guard advisory notice is amended, in Phase 1 commencing Monday 18th  May, single handed or household multi-handed supervised and non-supervised activity, as well as day sailing, can go sailing, windsurfing or powerboating once maintaining social distancing of 2m and not more than 5km from your home to your boat/launch site.
  4. Why can’t I go Sailing in my own boat with members of other households if I can maintain Social Distancing?
    The unpredictable nature of the sport is such that people need to move around on the boat, and in certain circumstances need to react to a gust or squall without consideration for social distancing. For Phase 1 at least we need to err on the side of caution and shall look at this again for later phases.
  5. When can I go racing shorthanded/with family members?
  6. Under published guidelines for Phase 3 commencing 29th June, club racing for single handers and household unit crewed boats is possible for those living within 20km of the Club. Irish Sailing continues to seek clarification to this guideline to facilitate multi-handed sailing for crews from different households.
  7. When can I go racing with full crew?
    In Phase 4 commencing 20th July regional and national events may be staged and Irish Sailing continues to seek clarification from Sport Ireland on social distancing to see whether this may occur at an earlier stage.
  8. When can I go racing and go for food/beer afterwards?
    In Phase 3 commencing 29th June club catering facilities may open providing on-premises food and beverages where they can comply with social distancing measures and strict cleaning in operation.
  9. Can I anchor offshore overnight?
    As long as you return to home port without making landfall there is no reason not to anchor offshore.
  10. What is meant by ‘Home Port’?
    “Home port” in this document refers to your launch site or where your boat currently lies.  It may be possible to end your trip in a different port if both are within 5km of your home (ie an exception to  “Returning to Home Port”).

  11. Does the 5km distance apply to my boating area?
    The travel restrictions apply for travel to your boat or launch site to prevent the spread between communities. Whilst on the open water - provided you return to your home port there is minimal risk of spread of the virus between communities.
  12. I didn’t realise we needed permission from the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI to go sailing?
    There is currently an advisory notice in place, asking the public not to take part in any water-based activity on or in the sea while the current national emergency restrictions are in place. We would not condone any activity on the sea until this notice has been revised.

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Organisational Questions

  1. Why has Irish Sailing not given more definitive guidelines for clubs?
    The diversity of our sailing, powerboating and windsurfing activities means that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Organisations need flexibility to base their decision-making relative to their activity, facilities, boats and equipment, sailing area, conditions etc. This is why we have based our Return to Sailing Scheme on the four fundamental principals: Compliance with restrictions, personal responsibility, self help and risk assessment.
  2. Will organisations be expected to enforce the travel restrictions?
    Because boats can launch from anywhere around the coastline and inland waterways, it is not possible for organisations to enforce this rule. Personal responsibility includes compliance with restrictions as well as personal safety.
  3. Why has Irish Sailing only given guidance for Phase 1?
    We are reasonably clear on the restrictions in place for phase 1, however there are still a number of issues that need to be clarified before we can identify what exactly is possible for later phases. We have based the document on Phase 1 and have included a roadmap for what the further phases might look like to allow for provisional planning. As soon as we have clarity, we will be updating the scheme to include further phases.
  4. Is there a minimum standard required to open our Club or Centre?
    Each organisation should follow the government guidelines under the Return to Work Safety Protocol. They should then follow Irish Sailing’s Return to Sailing Scheme and conduct a Risk Assessment specific to the activities being offered under the appropriate protocols for each Phase. These new protocols will complement the normal Operational Procedures that each organisation previously operated under and must be reviewed as per Government guidance. 
  5. How can we ensure our cruiser lift-in is safe?
    People should be able to lift-in on 18th May under the outdoor workers category. Stepping of masts may be difficult as it requires two or more people in close proximity. Household members may be needed to help. All must be conducted with cleaning protocols and social distancing in place.
  6. How will we facilitate slip sharing for launching?
    Household sailing and operations will be the key to solving this challenge. Boat park and slip sharing needs to be very structured as you are rigging and launching boats, particularly with pulling trolleys up. Have a sanitising protocol in place and encourage households to work in teams together.
  7. How will we facilitate ferrying to cruisers on moorings?
    Sailors can either access their boats by having their own tenders or it may be possible for organisations to ferry sailors in club launches while maintaining social distancing. 
  8. What about shorthanded white sails cruiser racing with non-household units?
    This will be difficult to achieve. Until we have better clarification around how we manage social distancing at Phase 3 we do not see this as an option.
  9. Is there an issue with changing rooms/toilets?
    In Phase 1 it is recommended people arrive ready to sail and only use the changing rooms/toilets as absolutely necessary while applying thorough cleansing, social distancing through spacing or off-setting times for people to change.
  10. What age group can we take sailing?
    This will be based on your Return to Sailing Scheme Risk Assessment (found on our website) – the lower the age group and experience level, the higher the risk. Each location and circumstance will be different.
  11. What can we do to help children with their rigging?
    Under Phase 1, households units can help each other.
  12. When will indoor activities resume (e.g. snooker and bridge in a club) ?
    This is not covered in Irish Sailing’s plan, however, Government guidelines would suggest Phase 3.

Go to directly to ... Personal Questions ... Training Questions ... Safety Questions ... General Questions

Training Questions

  1. Can we run our club and centre training courses?
    We recognise that whilst some centres have temporarily closed in line with guidance from the Government, on the 18th May some organisations may provide some single-handed or household multi-handed supervised and non-supervised activity and day sailing - returning to home port.
    If it is safe and appropriate for your centre’s training activities to run limited training, please take note of the temporary course variations laid out below. These measures have been put in place to aid Irish Sailing recognised training centres at this challenging time, however, please ensure you always follow the latest Government advice when deciding whether a course should go ahead, be postponed or cancelled.
  2. Will there be Irish Sailing instructor courses running this summer?
    The current recommendation is that Dinghy & Windsurfing Instructor Training may resume in Phase 3 commencing on the 29th June, where arrangements are in place to enable participants to maintain social distancing. For Powerboat, Advanced Sailing Instructor and Senior Instructor courses we need clarification on social distancing measures before we can confirm when they might resume. All courses must be agreed under the Consent Principal of all parties including students, parents, organisers and trainers feeling safe and happy to run the course.
  3. What happens if my Instructor Course was postponed or cancelled?
    Irish Sailing will maintain a record of all currently scheduled instructor courses. Once there is greater clarity around a timescale for the resumption of activity Irish Sailing will work with the respective Instructor Trainer groups to re-schedule course as efficiently as possible. Priority will be given to previously scheduled courses which were cancelled or postponed due to Covid restrictions.
  4. Can I do my Instructor CPD / revalidation this summer?
    As it is unlikely to be possible to schedule CPD / revalidation days ahead of the main sailing season, instructors due to revalidate their qualification during 2020 will be given an extension to the validity of their current qualification to allow them to instruct this summer.
    Instructors who have previously held qualifications at any level which have lapsed prior to 2020 will be able to apply on a case-by-case basis to have their qualification revalidated to cover the 2020 season.
  5. My First Aid certificate has expired and my course has been cancelled. Can I still instruct courses?
    Due to the restricted availability of emergency care training courses the requirement to hold an emergency care certificate for certification of Irish Sailing Instructors will be suspended for newly qualifying instructors. Instructors qualifying under these conditions will have a time limited validity applied to their certification and an emergency care certificate will be required to extend this validity.
    Currently qualified instructors with emergency care certificates which lapse this year will be permitted to continue instructing until they are in a position to revalidate their qualification.
    With these arrangements in place it is important to emphasise that there must be someone with a valid emergency care certificate onsite, identified and available at all times when activities are taking place.
  6. My commercial endorsement has expired, can I still work?
    In light of the position of the European Union and of the International Maritime Organisation, the Irish Maritime Administration (IMA) of the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) is adopting the following measures and procedures to provide for a temporary extension to the validity of seafarer certificates in order to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on the maritime sector as much as possible. For further details please read Marine Notice 14 of 2020.
  7. I am concerned about the junior sailors not achieving level certs this year
    The certificates will not be a priority this year and we would focus more on the safe and enjoyable return to the sport of sailing to be this year’s focus. Sailors should take this year as an opportunity to use their Irish Sailing Passport online logbook to track their skills progression, log their adventures and record any results they have from local races within their club.
  8. Are inspections still going ahead and will this affect my recognition status?
    The normal programme of Training Centre inspections will be suspended for the 2020 season. Inspections will be replaced by support visits from Irish Sailing staff to see if there are any specific requirements the Training Centre has and help ensure that the return to normal activity is carried out safely. Training Centres are still required to complete the Safety Declaration covering all of the normal operating procedures and insurance requirements.

Go to directly to ... Personal Questions ... Organisational Questions ...  Safety Questions ... General Questions

Safety Questions

  1. What happens if someone catches COVID 19 on our sailing course?
    There is a specific protocol now in place under the Government’s Return to Work Protocol and should any participant complain of Covid-19 symptoms during an activity or while on-site, seek medical advice immediately and follow the guidance received.
  2. How do we provide adequate safety boat cover?
    Safety will run as per usual club protocol, while maintaining social distance within the boat. For Phase 1 people from the same households can facilitate 2 per boat. If individuals are going out on their own accord, they need to organise self-help with a second form of propulsion. The risk assessment can be used to facilitate the boat being manned with a single person based on the experience of the sailors and conditions.
  3. How do we practically look after groups of young sailors and maintain social distancing?
    Each centre has a unique set up. In the early phases it may not be possible to cater for the very young sailors as they need a lot of hands on assistance. A risk assessment must be done on each level and type of sailor, and you can find this on our website.
  4. Can we do powerboat training?
    Powerboat training is difficult to undertake with social distancing as the instructor needs to be within reach of the controls and the ratio of 3 clients to 1 instructor will be very difficult in an average sized powerboat.

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General Questions

  1. When is the Irish Sailing Team going back to sailing?
    The Irish Sailing Team continue to train remotely this week and will return to sailing on Monday 18 May at the start of Phase 1, using the Performance HQ in Dun Laoghaire as their place of work. The PHQ containers however will be closed for all use except launching of boats from the pontoon. The athletes will undergo hygiene protocol training this week, but won’t use the PHQ all at the same time to minimise risk and will adhere to the 2 metre social distancing guidelines at all times.
  2. Is there an opportunity to promote a family-only challenge?
    Yes, particularly in the early Phases. It could be a fun way to get the membership engagement flowing early. Phases 1-3 are about getting people back onto the water safely, in household units and having fun.
  3. Is there anything else that we can do to tell people we are open for business?
    We are currently updating the Irish Sailing website which outlines how new and returning sailors can get started. If feasible, we will promote sailing later on in the summer to the general public. If your club’s details need updating on the Try Sailing website, please contact us.
  4. When will this FAQs page be updated?
    We are regularly updating this FAQ document. If you have a question that hasn’t been answered, please contact

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