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Ontario Sailing
The 2021 Sailing Season & COVID
Message to All of Ontario's Sailing Community

April 16, 2021
As we approach the 2021 sailing season, there are many questions regarding how the Provincial Government’s Regulations and various public health recommendations impact sailing. Ontario Sailing is committed to informing our members organizations about publicly available information through a sailing lens.
While Ontario Sailing has consulted a variety of advisors and experts in this regard, the information we supply is not legal or medical advice and is general in nature - each individual and each organization should consult their own resources in order to understand the application of the Regulations and public health recommendations. Each individual organization has to decide for themselves how they will operate and how the Regulations and recommendations fit their organization and their specific situation. Just because an activity may be permitted does not mean that the Directors or owners of each organization need to allow the activity to happen in the organization.
The Province’s COVID Response Framework documents clearly state:
There are several risk factors that help drive transmission of COVID-19, including:
  • close contact
  • closed spaces
  • crowded places
  • forceful exhalation
Close contact is the highest risk. Limiting these risks is critical to keeping Ontario open and safe
Double handed and multi handed sailing can result in a combination of the risk factors listed above, particularly close contact and forceful exhalation during periods of exertion during rapid sailing maneuvers. These key risk factors should always be considered in the context of the activities you are contemplating offering. Each situation is unique and needs to be decided individually.
Key Things to Note:
  • The situation and rules have changed from last summer in many ways. We anticipate changes will continue through this upcoming season as well.
  • Each individual needs to decide for themselves their comfort level with the risks inherent in their situation and the desired activity, within what is permitted under provincial Regulations and respecting the decisions regarding risk of the leaders of each individual member organization.
  • Ontario Sailing does not set any COVID-related regulations or restrictions regarding the activities of our member organizations. We share publicly available information regarding Provincial laws with each organization’s board or owner who is responsible for understanding their legal situation, managing the risk, making decisions on how to proceed, and managing consequences for their organization; Ontario Sailing takes no responsibility for any reliance on the information we provide in COVID-related communications.
  • Part of the Regulations include that organizations must:
  • operate in accordance with all applicable laws, including the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Regulations made under it;
  • operate in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions of public health officials, including any regarding physical distancing, cleaning, masks or face coverings or disinfecting; and
  • operate in compliance with any advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, or another public health official, on screening individuals.
As we kick off the 2021 season, the Ontario Sailing Board of Directors would like to strongly encourage everyone to act first and foremost in the interest of health and safety for our sailing community regardless of the Regulations. This may include actions such as all ages wearing a mask if racing with others onboard or during programs and considering and communicating the COVID-related risks when contemplating hosting or participating in regattas. 
There are many Regulations currently in place, broken down by different colour zone classifications for each area of activity common to our member organizations. Each organization has to use the broadly written Regulations as the starting point for decisions about the risks they are willing to undertake as an organization recognizing their own unique situations. We recognize that each of our member organizations face distinctive items impacting their risk assessment. For example, consideration needs to be given to items such as size and space, both indoor and outdoor, and what type of activities they are undertaking, also the number and variety of activities. Each organization’s Board will have to consider all the factors in their situation to determine their potential risks and how to address those risks.
We are not out of the woods with COVID and while we are hopeful that the majority of the province will be able to spend the summer in Orange, Yellow and Green colour classifications where the Regulations, and lower numbers, allow more flexibility in what is available, we all know that keeping our communities safe is everyone’s responsibility.
Each individual who looks to participate in sailing this summer needs to consider their situation and assess the level of risk they are willing to undertake. We encourage everyone to read the medical information provided below by an active sailor who has been at the front lines of COVID research and understanding before you make your decisions about what activities to engage in this summer. We may not be able to enjoy every aspect of sailing that we normally do as the COVID battle continues but there is light at the end of the tunnel. In the meantime, enjoy the chance to get out on the water and appreciate sailing in all the forms we can.
Here’s to a great 2021 season!
Stay Safe
Sailing & COVID-19
April 4, 2021
By: Lionel Mandell MD, FRCP, FRCP (LOND)

Dr. Mandell is Professor Emeritus of Medicine at McMaster University and a former president of the Canadian Infectious Diseases Society.
He was chair of the pneumonia guidelines committees for the US and Canada and has been invited to 60 countries as a visiting professor and consultant to medical groups and governments. He is currently active in the management of patients with COVID-19 and is on the international monitoring boards of several studies assessing new drugs for treatment of COVID-19.
Dr. Mandell has been sailing for many years and currently races a shark, Ideal 18 and has a Beneteau 331 for some cruising.

For more than a year we have been battling the SARS-CoV2 virus and it’s clear that there is a great deal of fear, misunderstanding and anxiety as we face yet another possible wave.
The more we understand about the virus and how it spreads and causes disease the more we can appreciate the public health measures used and the scientific efforts in the form of vaccines to control this deadly pandemic. The proper use of well-established methods such as distancing and masking while at the same time trying to aggressively vaccinate the public will hopefully see us home and dry.
We hope that by reading this you’ll have a better understanding of COVID-19 and how to suppress and ultimately defeat it.

The Virus
The disease COVID- 19 is caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus. This virus is basically a tiny ball made of protein with spikes on the outside and genetic material on the inside (see Diagram below). By using these spikes as hooks, the virus attaches to human cells and penetrates them. Once inside, many more viruses are produced which then explode out of the cell destroying it and going on to infect more human cells and causing illness in the process.
When people are vaccinated, antibodies are produced which can block the attachment of the virus thereby protecting against infection.
When the virus infects someone, a number of scenarios may occur. The person may simply carry the virus but not become ill or he or she may develop symptoms of COVID- 19 that can range from mild to severe or even critical. Unfortunately, not only people who are ill but also those who are asymptomatic carriers of the virus are capable of spreading it to others.

How the Virus Spreads
The main route of spread is by respiratory droplets. If someone carrying the virus talks, shouts, sings, coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets carrying the virus are expelled and these may infect other people. Typically, these droplets travel only several feet before dropping to the ground.
The above considerations form the basis of the two most important public health measures to prevent viral spread:
  1. Wear a proper mask
  2. Maintain physical distancing
By wearing a mask, you lessen the spread of respiratory droplets from yourself to others and you also protect yourself from inhaling the virus from others. By proper physical distancing i.e., two or more meters, you decrease the risk of contact with the respiratory droplets.
Proper masks should cover the nose, mouth and chin and should fit without any significant gaps between the mask and your face. Surgical masks or cotton masks that are multilayered work well. Scarves, bandanas, neck gaiters and face shields are not considered to be suitable masks or face coverings.

Mutations, Variants
The gene code of the virus is basically an instruction manual for how to build the virus. If mistakes occur in the code, then a change in a part of the virus may result. If this change provides an advantage to the virus such as a better hook with which to attach to human cells, then viruses can become more transmissible and eventually become dominant. This happened in England with the UK (B.1.1.7) variant and this particular variant is now becoming dominant in Ontario.

Aside from increased transmissibility however, the current variant circulating in Ontario is also considerably more virulent. Some variants may also acquire the ability to evade antibodies produced by previous infection or vaccination. The best way to mitigate the risk of variants and SARS-CoV2 in general is to follow public health recommendations to minimize viral spread and to get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible.

It’s a Numbers Game
The issue of viral transmission and acquisition is basically a numbers’ game. The more virus you are exposed to the greater your chance of “catching it” and vice versa. The important variables involved are:
  1. The number of viral particles the person is spreading
  2. How close you are to that person
  3. How long you remain in close contact
  4. Whether you or your contact are wearing proper masks

Although this link is part of an overall message aimed at the sailing community, one may better appreciate the constraints of a boat and particularly a cockpit when the following sports are considered. Think of them from the point of physical distancing, length of time in close contact etc. and then think of a boat and its cockpit.
  1. Baseball; except while sitting on the bench
  2. Golf
  3. Tennis
  4. Skiing; downhill, cross country

Whether engaging in recreational sailing or racing, having multiple people in close proximity to each other in a cockpit poses a potentially significant risk. This is increased during racing when voices are raised, people are breathing harder etc.
The problems of transmission and acquisition of the virus are minimized considerably if while sailing you are a) only with people in your own bubble, b) you are all fully vaccinated or c) appropriate physical distancing is maintained and proper masks are worn at all times.

Bottom Line
Please keep the following points in mind:
  1. Physical distancing and proper masks work
  2. Vaccines are being rolled out
  3. Avoid situations that increase the risk of viral spread
  4. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Keep that light bright by being careful, vigilant and smart.

COVID-19 Updates

Updates regarding COVID-19 can be found on the front page of our website at
We update this page on a regular basis so be sure to check back often.

Although the Ontario Sailing office is closed as staff participate in physical distancing, staff can be reached directly by email. A list of staff email addresses can be found at  along with staff responsibilities.
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