Written evidence submitted by RestartSailing
RestartSailing response to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee’s Inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors
RestartSailing.org is a sailing community group representing clubs, classes, trade, sailors and other stakeholders. RestartSailing came together during the start of the C19 pandemic, with the sailing community working together to address the many issues and challenges thrown up by the C19 situation and looking to the future, with reforms that could improve and modernise the sport.
About this response
RestartSailing conducted a survey of the sailing community. This was started at the end of March and subsequently updated up to the end of May. In total 63 responses were received, from clubs, classes, trade and individuals, representing over 25,000 sailors
• What has been the immediate impact of Covid-19 on the sector?
All sailing activity cancelled until the end of May – many events cancelled in June, July and beyond. This includes racing, training and casual sailing.
Direct loss of income due to cancelled activity.
Indirect loss of income due to financial strains on individuals and businesses and uncertainty over the future – e.g. many sailors not buying from marine companies as usual, not renewing memberships, moorings etc.
Difficulties with maintenance and upkeep – boats can not be accessed for essential safety checks etc.
Employees furloughed, self-employed without work.
59% stating they have faced financial challenges
• How effectively has the support provided by DCMS, other Government departments and arms-length bodies addressed the sector’s needs?
Some have accessed Government financial support but unavailable for many due to setup of business/club/etc. For example, businesses with no rateable premises, CASCs with stable accounts etc.
Looked to guidance from RYA but many describe a lack of support.
Also accessed support from BMF, RS Sailing, UCL, NHS, Sport England, World Sailing, etc.
Many have not sought support.
Many are supporting their own sailors/members/customers with online activity to keep up engagement.
Very mixed responses in terms of effectiveness of support – ranging from very positive to very negative.
Support not required
• What will the likely long-term impacts of Covid-19 be on the sector, and what support is needed to deal with those?
Long term loss of participants due to lack of confidence, financial constraints, time constraints etc.
Clubs, classes, businesses and professional racing teams folding due to economic damage.
Availability of events, training etc. reduced due to clubs, classes and businesses folding due to financial pressure.
Pandemic compounding existing issues.
Social distancing measures will impact how sailing is run.
Loss of social element of sailing events (and subsequently a further loss of participants).
Safety issues due to length of time spent off the water for sailors, officials, instructors etc. and boats themselves.
Long-term revenue issues.
Mental and physical health issues for sailors.
A potential catalyst for substantial change and business model change (positive impact).
Key quote: “Many businesses in the sector will struggle to survive. It's likely that some will have to close down as loans don't recover losses during these times.”
• What lessons can be learnt from how DCMS, arms-length bodies and the sector have dealt with Covid-19?
Overwhelmingly the most common thing mentioned in this response was the need for better communication – particularly from HMG and the RYA. Clear and consistent advice.
Organisations need to be more adaptable, agile, responsive.
Less unnecessary negativity.
Quicker Government response.
Less bureaucracy (at all levels).
Better planning (by HMG and individual sector) for unexpected emergencies such as this.
More conclusions will be able to be drawn further down the line.
A mixture of responses saying not enough action was taken by Government and others saying action taken was overkill. Suggests clearer communication of scientific/medical advice would help reassure.
Key quote: “Act early, work together, communicate clearly, be comprehensive. Keep it simple, efficient and robust.”
• How might the sector evolve after Covid-19, and how can DCMS support such innovation to deal with future challenges?
More local activities, less travel.
Greater use of technology.
Opportunity to address the environmental impact of the sector.
Change of business models / new businesses.
Greater emphasis on clubs and grassroots sailing.
A new focus on cost effectiveness.
The sailing sector needs to adapt to the C19 situation in the short term, and use the opportunity for longer term reform and modisation, DCMS support could help accelerate this process