By Neto Baptiste
The creation of a bubble at a yet to be decided marina and a possible scaled down version of next year’s Antigua Sailing Week, are among measures being considered by the event’s organizing committee as they continue planning for the international sailing regatta slated for the last week of April.
Yesterday, the event’s Commercial Director Alison Sly-Adams made the disclosure on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, stating that the body is continuing to monitor other sailing regattas throughout the Caribbean and wider afield as they continue to plan for next year’s activities.
“We are very committed to making it happen but, of course, the big issue is how can that happen safely and even aside from that, can people get here? And that is probably going to be one of the hardest things to overcome this year in terms of even if they can get here, will they come because the perception of the worries they have is countries quickly going into lockdown after what happened last year,” she said.
“What we are talking about at this point is whether we would need to operate from one marina or create a marina bubble where you are very strict on protocols within and don’t let anybody come on to the marina. That’s something anybody with a marina is doing this year; they are being much stricter in terms of access to the docks,” she added.
The 2020 installment of the annual event was cancelled in March this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Sly-Adams said that in the absence of a working vaccine, the committee would have to adhere to strict health and safety precautions put in place by the relevant health authorities which could result in a scaling down and or complete cancelling of some non-sailing activities.
“We can only operate within the protocols agreed to with the Ministry of Health which is, groupings of 25 people, so what that means is that assuming we get the permission to go ahead and competitively race which, the sailing association is waiting on right now, then we can race but we can’t have gatherings,” the commercial director said.
“That’s possible as an event but we would have to sit down with the Ministry of Health to go through how we then, maintain very strict protocols outside of the races once the boats are docked but people still need to eat and drink but based on the current protocols, we wouldn’t be able to have groupings of any kind and probably even prize giving,” she added.
To date, Adams estimates that the country has lost millions of dollars due to the cancellation of a number of sailing events.
“At this point, we have certainly lost Classic Week. Sailing Week would have brought in around EC $6 million directly for that week, and Classic Week would have brought probably about half that at EC $3 million. So you are looking at round maybe $10 million once you allow for the fact that after Classic, boats hand around to be around Sailing Week so you would have lost some of the dockets from that so that’s the kind of scale of what we lost earlier this year,” she said.
The 53rd edition of the Antigua Sailing Week is slated for from April 24-30. Over 70 boats have already shown interest in next year’s event including some that would have rolled over from the cancelled 2020 competition.