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  Commodore's report, AGM 2015

This year the AGM again took place at the New Inn, Rockland, where we were made most welcome. After the usual preliminaries, the Commodore, Mark Wells, spoke as follows:

"Welcome to our AGM, which I hope to keep brief, as I know there is a meal awaiting.

When the club was founded, there were those who said to me, It’ll never last; I’ll give it two years…. but here we are, 30 years on, so we must have got something right, in all that time!

I’d like to thank those who have kept club afloat this year - particularly those who stayed with the committee through thick and thin, those who took on extra responsibility when others felt they had to stand down. John will review the season shortly, so I don't want to duplicate, but I'd particularly like to thank Dave Walker, who took over as treasurer at a difficult time and worked hard to pick up the reins and prepare a sensible report. A lot of work, by him and our auditor, Peter George, has gone into that. John himself - always efficient as a secretary supporting the committee, preparing paperwork, dealing with NSBA and others, remembering who ordered the pork and who the beef. Neil - keeping the club boat up to spec and making sure it is always there, fuelled up and working, when needed. The race teams: the firers of guns and the pullers of ropes (you know who!). Also, Margaret, unofficial race organiser, seeing that regattas run smoothly, and that the results get back to the RCC and onto the website.

Thank you one and all.

So, 30 years. I spoke of this before at the dinner, but some of it is worth saying again.

The Club has changed a lot. We have gone from weekly club racing to weekend open meetings. Originally, every member had to do a box duty - now we have more "specialist" teams. We have changed base several times, from Langley, to Buckenham, to Cantley for major events. When we started, our largest and keynote event was Reedham Regatta - with BBQs, marquees and music. Later, a signature event at Breydon was created. We used to organise Northern Rivers cruises; those and their lethal cocktail parties have come and gone. The annual trip to Norwich for the Lord Mayor's procession is thing of the past. The autumn cruise to Norwich, which we had for several years, has now gone to other destinations. The Perryman race has moved around the calendar, as have our other racing weekends.

Where are we today?

Mostly, we have an ageing membership: (nearly) all of us are guilty! For many, our family circumstances have changed. A lot of us have new priorities. As a club, we have developed a motorboat wing, as people's boating commitments have changed. And the motorboat users are a much valued resource for the club.

Some of our weekend events are still very popular, but largely supported by visitors. Some of them are "semi-detached" members. Let's be kind and not call them pot-hunters - after all - the pots are there to bring them in!

But we need to think what to do in the next 10 - 20 years. What will we do if we lose Breydon? That could be on the cards. Most importantly: how are we going to attract new members? How are we going to find the people who will take over the administration and organisation, the race management and the event organisation in future years? The YSC is not alone in these problems - they are perennial problems for all sailing clubs - indeed, almost any voluntary organisation.

About five years ago, I had to write a sort of Club development plan to enable us to apply for RYA funding for our club boat engine and boat shed (the tin garage!). The GWYC - a club similar in many ways to YSC, and in some ways a model when the YSC was founded - recently went through a number of changes - members of that club and the committee worked very hard to work-up a practical "development plan". They were much helped in that by the RYA. The result: they largely rejuvenated the club.

So a recommendation - not a proposal (I don't want to tie the incoming committee’s hands): one major task of the coming year, perhaps through a working party, could be to ponder the club's future. What should the fourth decade look like? As part of that, we could think about the way the RCC is changing. Who is joining the class? What are they likely to want? What kind of boats do they sail? What sort of social events would they like? What can we do to attract at least some of them to be full and active members?

We should put YSC through a strain test: work up these ideas, and produce a genuine development plan. We should work with the RYA on that and who knows: sound though our finances now are, we might find a way to bring in more external funding. Free money!

Finally, I am delighted that Margaret has agreed to be Commodore. She has done the job well in the past, and will do it well again in the future. And I am pleased too that Bob has agreed to stand as Vice Commodore. In the past, he was a very efficient treasurer. I am sure he will support Margaret well as Commodore - and move up to take on that position himself in time.

Finally, finally - before the sit down: a couple of parish notices: don't forget the Turkey Race in about three week's time - and what I am sure will be a splendid Christmas lunch at the Ferry. Incidentally - this year, the committee did consider other options for location - we do think this is an event that should move around - but other food options up and down the river are not that attractive, although we are keeping an eye on the Lord Nelson for next year. The competition this year - table decorations! So whatever you build - you won't have to wear it - and that is the closing date for the Gordon Winterton Photography competition too: The character or characters of the Broads. We all know some of those!"

The Acting Vice Commodore, Margaret Kilner, then presented small gifts to the members of the committee who were standing down, namely a couple of bottles of red wine to David Walker and a flagon of cider for Harriet Wells.

After the close of the meeting, and a respite to recharge glasses at the bar, a fine meal, with a Polish flavor, was much enjoyed by all.

last edited on:  17/11/2015 at 14:58   by: The Editor