Dear Club Members,
2012 has been a special year for our sport and our Club in so many ways.
After enduring a drought in the first three months of the year it then seemed not to stop raining for the next three months. The sun came out just in time for the Olympics and saw Team GB win medals in five events, with the nail-biting Finn and Star medal races watched by many in the Clubhouse. Team GB went on to new success in the Paralympics with medals in two events, bronze being won by Club member Alexandra Rickham in the Skud class. We sent our heartiest congratulations to her at the time and she attended the Sailability end of season lunch where she received the 2012 Sports Award for Spelthorne from the Mayor. At the General Meeting in December, she was appointed an Honorary Life Member of the Club. Our own Sailability programme for disabled people remains very active. My thanks to all the volunteers and especially to Alan Woolford for the splendid leadership he continues to provide to Sailability here at Queen Mary.
In a brief gap in the rain we celebrated the Club’s 40th anniversary with a day of fun events on the water. There was also a formal dinner in the evening attended by current and previous officers of the Club. The dinner was a great success and in the coming year we are considering making a formal dinner, open to all members, an annual event.
The refurbishment of the Clubhouse has given us a wonderful space not only in which to hold special events but also to use day in and day out. Many Club members and visitors have commented on how great the result is. What is not so visible is the hard work required from winning the funding, through managing the work to fitting out afterwards with our fine new furniture.
Two additional milestones have been achieved this year, gaining the status of a Community Amateur Sports Club and signing a new 25 year lease with Thames Water. Both of these are crucial to our future stability, especially the latter. With the steps we took last year on restructuring and with the security of the new lease we are in great shape to face the future whatever it and the weather throw at us.
The Sailing School is a vital part of the operation at Queen Mary and provides a service to members and course attendees alike. A new online course booking system was introduced this year that has saved time in the office and created an even more professional image for the Club. We know that having a chandlery onsite is also very important as a service to members and I am pleased that a new shop is running to meet immediate needs. For a wider range of goods we have a partnership with Virtual Rigger offerings discounts to club members for goods ordered online. Change seems to have been the flavour of the year and this has extended to saying farewell to Myers Catering and welcome to Thyme Lords. If you have not yet had a chance to sample their excellent fare then you are in for a treat.
It seems a very appropriate point to say how grateful we all are to Catherine Rawson as Club Secretary for driving forward all these improvements and for all her achievements at the Club in her four years in the role. We are very sorry to see her retiring at the end of the year but wish her very well for the future. At the same time I am delighted to be welcoming Tony Bishop into the role, one that he has already started to fill with great enthusiasm.
A core activity of the Club remains racing, widely recognised as being of the highest quality both for Club series and Open meetings. 80 boats entered the summer Sunday series and 120 boats entered the Wednesday evening series. My thanks to Sailing Committee led by Bob Joce as chair and Paul Schroeder as principal Race Officer, as well as to all the race officers and support staff who do such an excellent job week in and week out.
Youth sailing also goes from strength to strength with more demand than we can meet in Youth Group, and excellent results by our young sailors at events around the country and indeed the world. Patrick Croghan won the inaugural Topper 4.2 World Championships in the Netherlands, while closer to home Izzi Mitchell received the Thames Valley Young Sailor of the Year Award for her outstanding successes crewing an RS400 for club member James George. My thanks to Margaret Foreman, Alison Benz, Jonathan Mallin and all youth parents and helpers for their enthusiastic support.
Social sailing continues to be popular with the Saturday Club giving members an opportunity to meet up and sail together, learning new skills in the process. We have also hosted two windsurfing demo days at the Club which have been well attended and well received despite light winds both times – a chance to try stand up paddle boarding which we hope to offer as a group activity next year. For those who like sailing in warmer climes the Club ran two very successful overseas trips, to Vassiliki for windsurfing and to Minorca for dinghy sailing. In 2013 we are planning a combined dinghy sailing and windsurfing week to Ortakent in Turkey towards the end of May.
Home on our water, finally we have seen one dredger removed and the other start on the extraction of two thirds of the bund. Already we have a better sailing area on the West side of the lake, we are all looking forward to the work progressing and extending the flexibility with which we can use the whole water.
Next in our calendar is the Bloody Mary on 12th January which will be the 40th running of the event and we are hoping for mild conditions to attract a large turn out. It continues to be seen as the iconic event of the winter dinghy sailing scene in the UK. Many of you are already involved I know, for which I am very grateful. Do come along to watch, it is an extraordinary day.
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