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 20th August 1200hrs

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... Personal FAQs
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Training FAQs

Personal FAQs

  1. Can I go sailing ?
  2. I am over 70, can I go sailing?
  3. Am I allowed work on my boat and/or launch it ?
    Yes. In Phase 1, boatyards, marinas, and other marine leisure business opened to facilitate essential maintenance, lifting and security of boats. Marina staff and other outdoor maintenance staff returned to work.
  4. Will the 14-day quarantine for overseas visitors be over soon ?
    The Government has published a “Green List” of countries which allow non-quarantined travel. This list is regularly updated. Updated travel advice may be found here 
  1. Are foreign boats allowed to visit Irish shores ?
    The arrival of personal non-national leisure vessels is banned from visiting Irish ports, marinas and harbours with some exceptions (eg ‘port in a storm’). Boats from Northern Ireland are exempt from this restriction
  1. I am the Owner of an Irish Boat currently lying overseas – am I allowed to sail it home?
    ​​If you as an Irish citizen and/or Irish National own the boat, it would not be classed as a ‘personal non-national maritime leisure vessel’ regardless of where it is registered. There have been a number of Irish Boats that have returned to Ireland throughout the lockdown period. Irish Sailing’s interpretation of the travel restrictions are that Irish leisure craft are allowed to return to Ireland and you should comply with restrictionsin place at the time on arrival. There are some Ports and Marinas who may have a different interpretation and you should check with them before deciding to make the trip.
  2. How can we sail and keep two metres social distance?
    In Phase 3 the Government, NPHETand Sport Ireland are permitting contact sport and accept that it may not always be possible to keep two metres social distance, but by introducing the ‘Pod’ system, the Distance –Activity –Time –Environment ‘DATE’ model and applying the updated Phase 3 Risk Assessment along with all other protocols such as the Health Declaration and Contact Tracing system, sailing together will be possible.
  3. What is a Pod?
    A ‘pod’ is a group of two or more household units involved in an activity together where social distancing may not be possible e.g. boat crew, training group (incl. coach or instructor), committee boat/race management crew or safety boat crew. Key points of a pod are:
    - Although there is no limit on numbers, pod size should be kept to a minimum. The smaller the pod, the lower the risk
    - People within the pod should maintain social distancing where possible
    - Pods should remain together for a minimum amount of time
    - People within the pod should change position as much as possible to minimize the time spent in close proximity to another member of the pod
    - People within the pod should be aware of slipstream effect and avoid being directly down wind of others in the pod as much as possible
    - People from different pods should not mix with people from another pod
  1. Do I have to wear a mask?
    The Sport Ireland medical team have advised that the wearing of facemasks while sailing worn over a long period of time in a wet environment do little to mitigate risk to sailors –duration of the activity, positioning in the boat, slipstream effect etc. are more important elements to consider.
  1. When can I go racing and go for food/beer afterwards?
    In Phase 3 club catering facilities opened providing on-premises food and beverages where they can comply with social distancing measures and strict cleaning in operation.
  1. What is meant by ‘Home Port’?
    “Home port” in our Return to Sailing Scheme refers to your launch site or where your boat currently lies. 
  1. Can I anchor offshore overnight?
  1. Do we need permission from the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI to go sailing?
    We work closely with the Irish Coast Guard and RNLI – if they advise that the public should not take part in any water-based activity on or in the sea while national emergency restrictions are in place, we will support this. There are no restrictions in place at present.


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Safety FAQs

  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. When can a person return to a club after they have been diagnosed with Covid 19?
    The HSE Test Results info is here In summary, you’ll need to continue to self-isolate until both of these apply:
    • you have had no fever for 5 days
    • it has been 14 days since you first developed symptoms
  1. Any ideas for contact tracing?
    The Government have launched their Covid Tracker app which you can download to your phone. It is readily available via the App store, Google Play or Covid 19 contact tracing system currently being used by one of our clubs may be of interest
  2. Can we use our CCTV recordings for Contact Tracing?
    No – contact tracing must be completed digitally so that the data may be shared immediately with the Public Health Nurse and NPHET – you can find a sample form on our website.
  3. How long do we keep records from a GDPR perspective?
    As per GDPR and HSE Guidelines you should retain records no longer than is necessary for the specified purpose or purposes and as always keep personal data safe and secure. Digital Contact Tracing Data is needed to be available for 14 days after an activity from a medical perspective, but 2 months is a reasonable time to hold onto the data and then destroyed.
  4. Who is responsible for Contact Tracing in our Club ?
    Each organisation should have a Covid 19 Officer to keep up to date with the Government recommendations, monitor compliance and ensure there is a person clearly appointed to keep a record of Contact Tracing List for all activities in their organisation. The responsibility of Contact Tracing within each Club varies pending the type of activity, size of each club and appointments of roles with the organisation. It is assumed by Irish Sailing that the Covid Officer is the Commodore in clubs and centre principal in centres, unless otherwise informed. It is very important that everyone appointed to a role is supported appropriately throughout the pandenmic


  1. With regards to liability, what if someone gets the virus by being at the Club?
    It is not possible to get insurance against Covid -19 Claims so we recommend a disclaimer accepting risk as part of the declaration form.


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Organisational FAQs

  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. 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. 
  3. Do we need a risk assessment for every evening event or can one risk assessment fit all?
    A regular activity needs one risk assessment based on the normal activity but be aware of any significant change to that activity that may need to be reflected in an update.
  4. Can we organise events with more than 15 competitors ?
    Yes – the group restrictions do not apply to competitive events.
  5. How can I launch more than 15 boats in compliance with outdoor gathering restrictions ashore?
    For sailing it is accepted that you need to rig boats and launch in order to compete. The restriction around the group size of 15 applies to training groups and gatherings, particularly after an event. For your events, we suggest the event organisers do the risk assessment and designate specific zones in order maintain as much separation as possible whilst rigging/launching in order to minimise risk.
  6. Any practical advice for boat taxis in clubs bringing different people to their different boats?
    Careful positioning of the driver and people on boats. The launch driver could wear a face mask with a restricted zone around tiller. Bringing out skippers to their boats and they come in for their own crew has worked well for some clubs.
  7. 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. For complete beginners you can minimise contact time and put on shorter sessions etc. Full day courses are now more feasible with the pod system as this mitigates some of the contact required. Consider lunch breaks, food, need for toilets, lunch time entertainment etc.
  8. Any advice for a group of six 10-year olds?
    In the training environment we accept you are in a pod – for example 6 students and instructor are a pod of 7 and may not be able to social distance. There are times we need to accept they are together particularly while sailing on the boat and manage them apart where possible.  Government have acknowledged that the under 13s are a relatively low risk as spreaders and contractors of the virus.
  9. Can pods mix? Can an instructor move from one pod to another?
    Keep it to a minimum and record any mixing
  10. Can we have 2 people from separate households in a safety boat?
    Yes, keep a record. They are a pod.
  11. Is it safe to operate multiples of the 15:1 grouping?
    We recommend you use the established training ratios of for example 1:6 or 1:8 with an assistant; we recommend they are a pod. It is possible to have a number of pods operating at the same time once keeping appropriate distance.
  12. Can we now run theory classes in the classroom?
    Yes, but keep as much physical distance as reasonably possible, minimise your contact and time that you are indoors. Keep in pods and ensure the room is well ventilated.
  13. Could you give some guidelines on powerboat training?
    Apply the pod concept: three participants and one instructor. If boats are small, reduce numbers. If social distancing is difficult, reduce time together on the boat. Some are using face coverings such as snood, but if they are wet and being touched a lot, they are ineffective. Hand sanitise regularly instead of wiping down.
  14. Will there be a guide around target race times?
    There is no one size fits all (dinghy racing vs offshore racing). If you can reduce your race times or come ashore between races to reduce the risk then do and if you can’t then do what you can to mitigate risk. There will be no overall guide, but we can offer personal advice.
  15. Can we issue Irish Sailing Certificates?
    Yes – there is nothing stopping certification if you can cover the syllabus. If not possible then encourage the development of skills and use the Irish Sailing Passport to track skills and experience.
  16. I am concerned about the junior sailors not achieving level certs this year
    The certificates will not be a priority this year – it’s important to focus on the safe and enjoyable return to the sport of sailing. 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.
  17. Is it ok for instructors that are not qualified to teach advanced courses?
    No – this is not best practice and they will not be qualified to deliver that level. The people training need to be competent and qualified at that level.
  18. Can we have a shower?
  • encourage your sailors to change at home if possible,
  • consider the number of people in changing rooms to allow social distancing to be maintained,
  • minimise the time in the shower
  • Individuals have a personal responsibility as does the operator in utilising facilities.  The management of occupancy levels and reviewing both the hygiene and cleaning regimes are important. The requirements for social distancing need to be considered which will include a consideration of the size, style (‘village style’, group change etc) as well as the layout of changing rooms to determine changing room capacities, enabling social distancing to be respected by customers and time allocated for cleaning. To mitigate the effect of this, facilities may want to consider a ‘beach style turn up and sail’ option to minimise time spent in the changing rooms or allow access straight to the activity.
    • provide washing facilities and hand sanitizer at the showers
    • consider hygiene arrangements to limit surface contamination in cubicles and lockers
    • consider floor stickers/markings indicating current social distancing requirements in open plan single sex changing rooms and shower areas
    • establish occupancy levels to assist social distancing arrangements.
    • implement effective cleaning regimes, paying particular attention to touch points
  1. Can you please give guidance on the selling of alcohol?
    Failte Ireland have issued their Guidelines but alcohol may be sold with a substantial meal >€9per person with a table service format lasting no more than 105 minutes and safe protocols in place.
  2. Can our Club get some Government Funding ?
    Sport Ireland have announced a €70 million resilience fund for sport, with €40m going to the FAI, IRFU and GAA and another €20m to clubs and club schemes. We have been in touch with Category 1 Clubs to help them with applying for funding and we strongly urge you to get in touch with your Regional Development Officer to start this process. The deadline for applications is 31 August 2020.

In addition, clubs are now included in the July stimulus package for small businesses – you can read more here

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Training FAQs

  1. Can we do training ashore with groups of more than 6 people indoors?
    Yes – Group sizes for training in sport relate to “exercising and dance classes”. It is possible to have larger groups in a classroom style environment provided there is sufficient space to maintain social distancing.
  2. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 

  1. 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.

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