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Downs Sailing Club

Operational policy

(This policy to be read in conjunction with the club rules, the club programme of events, the list of officers duties and information on the club website at www.downssailingclub.co.uk)

General Introduction

Downs SC is a sea based club that has been operating from its present location of the Green, Walmer for over 50 years. It is a member’s run club with no employed staff except for cleaning. It is open to all and has a set of club rules outlining the structure and management of the club. The management is in the hands of the executive committee with an elected commodore in post for a two year term. The sailing programme is organised by the sailing committee that reports to the executive committee. Training is planned and organised by the training committee that also is responsible to the executive committee.

Sailing area

This is to the south of Deal pier, to the north of Walmer castle and inshore of the Deal Bank buoy. Sailing outside this area for organised events is pre planned and a specific risk assessment made for the event with extra safety cover laid on. In summer months the club also has 4 fixed yellow marks that can further define areas for use. Individuals may sail outside these areas at their own risk.

Safety cover

The club operates a fleet of 4 rigid inflatable safety boats. No boats shall go afloat until the safety boat is on the water, and the safety boat(s) remain(s) afloat until all sailing boats are ashore. All people afloat must wear appropriate buoyancy and protective clothing. The number of safety boats afloat is determined by the number of boats sailing, the type of activity and the weather. On the day this decision is made by the duty executive officer for club racing and by the chief instructor for training events. The club runs in house safety boat training. The boats are all equipped with VHF radios and are in communication with the ‘bridge’ on channel 37 (M1) which is also manned whenever the club is operating. The boats undergo professional servicing annually and the engines are replaced on a rolling programme.

First aid

First aid kits are kept in all the safety boats. There is also a first aid kit mounted in the hall of the club. A list of first aid certificate holders is displayed on the notice board beside the bridge stairs. For open and training meetings there is a designated duty first aider. The accident book is situated at the base of the bridge stairs.

Health and safety

A risk assessment of the club is made annually and any hazards highlighted and where possible removed. Those that remain are subjected to an action plan to reduce the risks. There is monthly health and safety inspection reported to the executive committee. Further details are in the club master folder and major potential hazards are to be highlighted in the briefing notes (see below)

Food hygiene

The club runs a small galley staffed by volunteers under the control of the house committee. The club runs official food hygiene certificate courses and the canteen is inspected by the local authority.

Child protection

The club has an up to date child protection policy (see club website) It is registered with the RYA for club members to have police checks. Those members working closely with children other than their own are requested to have a police check. The club has a photograph policy (see website). The club aims to be family centred and though individual cadet members are welcome most events where children are present their parents are also present


Club Training.

Downs SC runs in house training on and off the water. This is organised by the training sub committee and the decision of whether to run an event is made by the responsible officer of the day taking into account the skills available for the circumstances. These training events are not run as part of the clubs RYA training centre status though the standards should be similar. Annual training usually includes power boat level 1 and 2, a local mates/safety boat course, Children’s sailing, race training, first aid training, food hygiene training.

RYA Training

The club has RYA training centre status. In the past it has run RYA training in conjunction with Dover water sports and Redoubt sailing club (both RYA centres).Downs SC has 5 powerboat instructors (3 with safety boat endorsement) one first aid instructor, 3 senior instructors and numerous RYA sailing instructors and club racing coaches. It is a RYA Volvo Championship club. The club is recognised under the RYA for powerboat and safety boat training, and for level 1, 2 and children’s sailing levels 1-4. The Principal is Martyn Styles, Chief instructor is Chris Shelton and lead powerboat instructor is Chris Danican. Training events run under the RYA syllabus’ will be under the active supervision of the appropriate qualified staff and observe the ratios of tuition laid down by the RYA in their guidance notes (see master folder section 11, page 5 section e). The decision on going afloat will rest with the senior instructor/principle/powerboat instructor.

Club boats

The club owns 6 Topper dinghies with full and training rigs. Two Dart 16 s with spinnaker kits, one Laser 2000 and one Laser. It also possesses as Laser fun that is used for safety boat training capsize recovery etc but not for normal sailing. See below

Mast floatation. The club Dart 16 and the Laser 2000 must only be sailed with mast head flotation to prevent inversion after capsize.

Club boat hire

Club boats are used for training. They are also available for hire by club members. To hire a club boat a member must have demonstrated competence and skill to use the boat in the prevailing conditions. There is a small charge for boat hire in non training events. The boats are maintained by the sailing committee. There is notice on the main club notice board to apply to hire a club boat and a folder on the bridge for reporting any equipment problems.

Duty officers

Whenever the club is open for on water activity there is a rota of duty officers. This will include an executive officer who is in overall charge, safety boat helms(s) and crew, and 2 race officers. The duties of each of these are in the club master folder and on the club website. Decisions about going afloat will be made by these officers in conjunction with the sailing committee for club events. For training events the senior instructor is responsible for all activities.

The specific duties and responsibilities of each club officer are laid down in the club master folder and on the club website.

Annual meetings take place for senior club officers who will be fulfilling the role of executive officer

Who is who

The main executive committee is listed in the club programme and is also displayed on the club wall to the left of the bar. The sailing committee is also in the club programme. The training committee consists of Martyn Styles as principal, Chris Shelton as chief instructor, Chris Danican as lead Power boat instructor, John Cass as boson, John Sharvill as first aid instructor and Ysanne Spicer as training co-ordinator.

The executive officer is not always on the executive committee but will be an experienced club member.


The club has an insurance policy appropriate for its activities. This is overseen by the club secretary and a copy of the policy is in the bridge master folder.


The club has a no discrimination policy (see club rules). We welcome sailors with disability. The club has disabled changing and toilet facilities. A specific risk assessment is needed for those with disability. The nature of the geography of the club with a steep shingle beach and an unprotected shoreline make reasonable adaptation difficult for those with severe mobility problems. Each person is assessed on their disability and strength.

Emergency plan

The club has an up to date emergency plan kept on the bridge. The club policy if for the bridge officers to alert the coastguard and emergency services by phone. An emergency is to be declared in the case of any injury likely to need outside assistance and any on the water problem likely to need assistance. For the duty officers on the bridge they need to be aware of the location of the emergency action file and the contents of action cards 1 and 2. Their main role is to contact the emergency services and call for help from experienced club members initially via the day’s executive officer. Annual training takes place with the local branch of the RNLI

Briefing notes

For each event at DSC from informal training ashore to major events on the water there will be a briefing. This will be for the ‘staff’ running the event and those taking part. The briefing notes are detailed in the club master folder but will include:

For staff- assessment of numbers, ages and skills of those attending, weather and tides. Resources needed, kill cords, first aid cover, fuel, food, sailing areas, communications, delegation of activities, emergency plans.

For participants- welcome and housekeeping, health and safety awareness and hazard identification, plan for the day, weather and tides, clothing and buoyancy, sailing areas, identification of staff, emergency actions, communication, sailing area, launching rules, plans for breaks and debrief and expected finish time.

Capsize and entrapment

All safety boat crew need to be aware of the danger of entrapment, especially the awareness of lack of air pockets in many boats. The aim should be to prevent entrapment by provision of mast head flotation. In the event of a capsize immediate identification of the boats crew should be made by the safety boat and the bridge look out. In the event of inversion the safety boat should aim to immediately right the boat by getting on the centreboard in the standard way. In some circumstances lifting the bow may also be considered. Any trouble whatsoever in this potentially lethal scenario should result in immediate call for help.


The club is affiliated to the RYA, Kent Schools sailing association and to Kent youth and community. It has close working connections with the RNLI and HM Coastguard


A record of training will be kept. All RYA recognised qualification for training will be kept by the principal (or deputy). A record is to be kept of those who have read and are aware of the club operations policy document(s)