British Sailing Team responds to coronavirus situation

Written by 19th March 2020 Team news
Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre. ©Pedro Martinez/SAILING ENERGY/50th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar

Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre. ©Pedro Martinez/SAILING ENERGY/50th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar

Right now, Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre should have been heading towards the business end of their 470 world title defence on the much-loved waters of Palma, Mallorca.

Luke Patience and Chris Grube should have been battling for their second gold medal of 2020, while a host of newly-formed mixed crews should have been out to win the first ever Mixed 470 world title.

The wider team should have been training in Palma ahead of the prestigious Princess Sofia Trophy regatta, a real favourite for all our athletes and a highlight of the European season.

But these are extraordinary times, and in light of the global coronavirus pandemic and following guidance from the Spanish Government, both the 470 Worlds and the Princess Sofia Trophy were called off.

Shortly after, the Government of the Balearic Islands announced the island would be going into lockdown to further prevent the spread.

What’s more, it became clear that a contingent of British windsurfers based at our winter training location of Vilamoura in Portugal’s Algarve would need to get home ASAP.

With 27 athletes and their boats, support staff, RIBs, vans and cars all overseas, a race to repatriate people and equipment began.

After a gargantuan effort from the British Sailing Team’s logistics team, within 72 hours everyone and everything was safely back in the UK.

So what now? The IOC reiterated this week that Tokyo 2020 will go ahead, and urged athletes to continue with their training. We must keep working towards that goal while it is still possible.

We are incredibly fortunate that one of the legacies of London 2012 was the RYA’s world-class training facilities in Weymouth and Portland.

The vast majority of athletes are based there, and for everyone else who needs to be there for extended periods we have Portland House, the RYA’s accommodation block, at our disposal.

For now, training will continue in small groups with priority given to those athletes selected for Team GB at Tokyo 2020.

We have a world-leading sports science and medicine team advising our operations, and we are monitoring and responding to Government guidance daily.

In these most challenging of times we must adapt and move forwards, while protecting the health and safety of the team and all around us.

Our goal remains to rule the waves.