Dear Club Member
2014 opened with a spectacular Bloody Mary when over 300 boats raced in winter sunshine, helped by an army of volunteers working everywhere in the club, on and off water. The early promise of the year has been fulfilled with an action packed and achievement laden season. Regular club racing continues to thrive, with big turnouts a familiar feature of the Sunday and Wednesday series. On the social sailing front, Saturday Club goes from strength to strength and our new Wednesday Club, aimed particularly at women, already has a loyal following for midweek morning sailing. Firsts for 2014 include the Battle of the Fleets, raced in J80s and won by the Lasers, and the Club’s Round the Island race entry, skippered by Freddie Cardew Smith. The biggest first of the year, the inaugural Bart’s Bash on 21 September, was an extraordinary experience for everyone who was a part of it, on or off water. 184 boats sailing average lap races around the reservoir was something to behold and a huge achievement for all those involved in its organisation. QM Lasers earned global distinction as the largest Bart’s Bash Laser fleet and Club members raised over £8000 for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation.
It has been another great year for windsurfing. Highlights include popular talks and demo days and the continued success of the ION sponsored GPS speed leaderboard, with this year's record set by fleet captain, Mike Farrie, at 31.0 knots. Work continues to improve windsurfing equipment, training and facilities, unmatched by any other inland centre locally, if not nationally, and new matting at the select storage container and on the gravel will better protect equipment. QM Windsurfing branded clothing has been popular with many of you. The Club trip to Vass, organised by Paul Adams, was a huge success: a record 20 people went and enjoyed great windsurfing, paddle boarding, sun, mountain biking, food and everything else on offer. A repeat trip is planned for 2015. Our new stand up paddle boards have also been a success on windless days, with over 300 SUPers and a new “SUP the Bund” leaderboard popping up below the windsurf leaderboard.
Beyond the Club, QM Lasers concluded their successful season by winning the Laser Masters Championship Club trophy for the second year running. The QM RS400 fleet distinguished itself by its high turnout and commitment to Open racing (and social) events with our top RS400 sailors highly placed in key national events throughout the year. Meanwhile, Lizzie Foreman qualified for the 2015 Mini Transat, Andy and Gill Peters won the RS200 Eurocup, Alexandra Rickham gained silver in the 2014 Skud Worlds, and Daniel Thompson was crowned Topper 4.2 World Champion.
Daniel’s achievement is just one of the highlights of QM’s youth sailing this year. Laser sailor, Daniel Martin, has been selected for the National Youth Squad and the youth dinghy sailors went to the 2014 National School Sailing Association regatta, put in some excellent individual performances and came second only to the host team of Kent (an entire county). This achievement and their commitment over the year, earned them the Young Sports Team of the Year award at the Spelthorne Sports Awards. Our talented young windsurfers are also flying up the Team15 hierarchy, with Hugo Thomas a member of the National Junior Squad and Josh Lane, Oscar Tierney, Millie Searle, Emily-Jane Eldred, Tom Skoulding and Zoe Davies in the zone squad.
Volunteers are not just for the Bloody Mary. We depend on a bank of familiar faces to keep much of the Club’s regular activity going and growing. This year, we welcomed some new names onto the Race Officer roster, which is essentially a list of those members who make it possible for the rest of us to enjoy regular club racing. With some RO stalwarts moving on to pastures new this year, we are particularly grateful to this valuable group of volunteers and welcome new recruits.
QM fleets benefit from the enthusiastic leadership of their fleet captains, who have energised the fleets and encouraged participation at every level. Youth sailing has its newly-elected Youth Captains, Alex Knight and Rosie Johnson, and, like Team15 windsurfing, is supported by parents and by other volunteers, as is the social sailing of Saturday Club and Wednesday Club.
QM Sailability goes from strength to strength. With an enlarged fleet of six Hansa 303 dinghies, a new Drascombe Lugger, “Alexandra”, and a team of committed volunteers, Sailability sailors have expanded their racing and now participate regularly in Saturday Club. As one of the first RYA High Performance Clubs, QM hosts a fleet of 2.4s and high level coaching for potential Paralympic stars.
With volunteers playing such a vital role, the Club is proud to have successfully nominated two members for RYA volunteer awards this year: outgoing Commodore Andrew Craig received an Outstanding Contribution Award and Paul Stainsby a Lifetime Commitment Award. I am also delighted that Club members elected Hugh Brooman as an Honorary Life member of QMSC. These few reflect the many whose contribution to the Club is so important to its ongoing success.
While on the subject of nominations, I am pleased that QMSC is a candidate for Yachts and Yachting Magazine Club of the Year and hope you all voted! We will learn the result in January.
Maintaining a healthy financial position remains a focus, since the Clubhouse, grounds and equipment will always be a demand on resources. In addition to our regular membership income, to which we have just added a new hire only Select option, we have been vigorously pursuing grant funding. In 2014 a £48,457 grant from SITA has enabled us to invest in a training marquee, safety boats, engines and youth sailing and windsurfing kit. The Club begins 2015 in a better financial position than we have enjoyed in previous Januaries. Our priority now is to ensure that the lift is brought back into reliable service and we intend to improve pontoons and matting, with further Clubhouse and facilities enhancements planned for the longer term.
The Club’s Sailing School continues to thrive under the vibrant leadership of our Principal, Vicki Thurston, with a record year. Planning for 2015 is well underway with winter training already in play and main season courses available to book online.
Our catering team, Thyme Lords, have had another great year and provided an amazing service, coping with the often unpredictable highs and lows of demand with good food and good humour.
Virtual Rigger continue to provide an onsite chandlery service to Club members and have sponsored many events. We value their presence and they appreciate your continued support.
We have said some important goodbyes and hellos in 2014. Amongst them: Phil Dickinson has become Watersports Manager at Willen Lake, Tim Anderton (Spelthorne Coach of the Year) now works full time for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, with his former RYA role as Regional Adviser taken up by ex- QM Instructor Ben Kimbell. All these changes are promotions and we wish them well. We are delighted to welcome Julie Harrison as our Sailing Secretary.
On a personal note, I would like to say a particular thank you to our outgoing Commodore, Andrew Craig, who is, let’s face it, a hard act to follow, to Council and other committee members for their support and commitment and to the staff: the management team of Tony, Vicki and Caroline, our excellent senior staff, Freddie, Paul, Julie & Wayne and our part-time and seasonal staff members, all of whose cheerful professionalism and expertise is such a vital part of QMSC.
In 2015 we look forward to a full Club racing calendar seasoned with carefully selected Open meetings, including Toppers, RS400s and our first Hansa 303 Sailability Open. We will be hosting the RYA Zone Championships, Bart’s Bash will be back and our first major event, of course, is the 2015 Bloody Mary on 10 January. I look forward to seeing many of you then.
Finally, may I thank you all for your support to the Club, and wish you and your families a happy and fulfilling 2015.
Queen Mary Sailing Club