Dear Club Members,
Looking back on 2013, it seems to me that we have had one of the best years for sailing in the UK that I can remember for some time. The summer was warm and yet windy, with great racing on both Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. The autumn stayed warm and windy and even at the start of the winter series we had 64 boats on the water, more than most classes achieve at their Nationals. The windy weather has been much enjoyed by the windsurfers and Richard Lloyd set a new club speed record at an astonishing 35.8 knots. The social sailing on Saturdays has twice the numbers attending compared to last year and the club seems vibrantly busy all the time.
Apart from it being great to see so many people enjoying themselves at our wonderful facility, it is very important to our club finances that we are active. There are always more demands on our resources than we can afford, but as well as membership and course income, we look to obtain grant funding whenever we can. We have just heard we have been successful with a Sport England grant with which we will purchase an RS Vision for our hire fleet and an Access 303 to take the Sailability fleet to six boats. We are also very keen for the clubhouse and grounds to be used as much as possible for revenue earning activities. In 2013 we focused on Team Building and Corporate Events and doubled the year-on-year income, peaking with a 62 participant Dragon Boat Racing event in September.
On the rare days when it was not so windy our new Stand Up Paddleboarding fleet was seen in action and from February next year we will be opening up this activity as an option for existing club members on their own or the school’s kit. With the RS demonstration centre on site, members have the chance to try new boats from that range. The J80 keelboats are also available for club members to hire and a programme of fleet and team racing will run next year.
Having attractive and effective facilities remains very important to us and in 2013 the windsurf cages were completely renovated and covered, and a rigging platform was installed by the select container – both helping to keep members’ and club equipment in the best possible condition. The exterior of the clubhouse was repaired and repainted in keeping with our lease terms, and the ladies’ changing room shower floor area will be retiled early next year.
As a service to members it is very important that we have quality catering at the Club and I am delighted that Thyme Lords, who joined us in late 2012, achieved 5 star rating for hygiene and continue to provide their friendly service and tasty food. The recent members’ survey shows it is appreciated.
An onsite chandlery is another important service and Virtual Rigger are providing a very personal service to the club seven days a week. They were our headline sponsor at this year’s Bloody Mary which at 340 entries was the largest for a decade. We have launched a visually stunning new website at www.thebloodymary.org.uk for the 2014 race being held on 11th January. This has been effective in attracting significant sponsorship. We have also obtained sponsorship to introduce live GPS tracking with online reporting of some events, a direction in which others are already going, and which visiting competitors are beginning to expect.
Our club members continue to distinguish themselves at events around the country and the world. Our Lasers yet again won the inter-club trophy while Howard Farbrother and Tim Anderton won the RS400 Europeans. Andrew and Jill Peters won the Cherub Nationals – and they were also crowned Club Champions. Toby Davey won Silver in his class at the World Blind Sailing Championships and Alexandra Rickham followed up on her Olympic Bronze by winning Gold (again) in the Skud Europeans and then the Worlds, her 5th such win. Andrew Mills won the Finn world cup and was on board with Ben Ainslie in setting a new Round the Island race record.
There have been some great coaching events at the Club again this year. At a Volvo Academy day Nic Thompson and Annie Lush coached the Laser and RS400 fleets. Colin Dixon from Club Vass ran a great coaching session for the windsurfers. In 2014 we will be having Simon Bornhoft running a pro clinic. The youth group has gone from strength to strength and benefitted from visiting classes and their coaches as well as great support from club members – and of course their parents. We hosted the RYA Youth Zone Championships in September and many of our young sailors won places in the squad.
The Club trip to the Nielson centre at Ortakent in Turkey was a great success with a wide range of activities on offer including windsurfers, dinghies, cats, kayaks, SUPs and even yoga, plus great food. For this year’s trip, we will be a returning to Club Vass (June 22nd) for the strong wind, flat water, great kit and superb tuition it promises to offer.
Another first this year was a sponsored event walking, running or sailing around the reservoir that raised £1357 for Youth development and Sailability. A similar event is planned for 2014.
None of the above happens without the dedicated and professional team running the club under Tony Bishop’s energetic and enthusiastic leadership. Nor would it work without the many volunteers who support the club in so many ways – Youth Group, Team 15, Saturday Club, Sailability, Race Officers, Sailing Committee and Council. The club is one of the few in the country where duties are not required and we are keen to keep this approach yet it is very gratifying that so many people are willing to give their time and skills to help others develop in what we all know is the best sport in the world.
Finally, may I thank you all for your support to the Club and wish you and your families all the very best for the coming year.
Andrew Craig, Commodore