There was no maintenance on the bascule bridge; the trains were running; there was no snow; not even rain and half a gale: definitely an atypical YSC annual dinner. In fact, the weather was mild and almost pleasant. 40 members an guests (a good improvement on last yearís 29) gathered at the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club for our 35th annual dinner at that location.
There was plenty of time to gather in the bar for the pre-prandials, where there was also no escape from buying raffle tickets and entering the sweepstake on the length of the Commodoreís speech. Having moved into the dining room, an excellent three course meal was enjoyed before Margaret rose to speak as follows:
ďMost of you will be fed up with me always banging on about how we need more people to help us; people to help run races and some new faces on the committee. For those of you who might be considering doing this (if only to shut me up) but are not quite sure what it entails, I thought Iíd take this opportunity to explain about the various rŰles we have.
We start at the top with the Commodore. Most of you will never reach the dizzy heights of Commodore. The Commodore is the most important person in the club Ė or so they think. They do everything, of course: without them, the entire club would collapse. They are the public face of the club, representing it to the rest of the world and promoting the wonderfulness that is the Yare Sailing Club. But they are also approachable: a friend to all the members, knowing them all by name, asking about their families, knowing which boats they sail and always willing to listen to gripes about handicaps. They canít do anything about them, but theyíll listen and nod in the right places! Kissing babies is optional.
Then there is the Vice Commodore. They are, of course, the second most important person in the club; but they donít actually have to do anything. Except agree with the Commodore. Unless, of course, some dire misfortune occurs to the Commodore, in which case the Vice Commodore then becomes very important, indispensable and all-knowing.
Next we have the Secretary. Notwithstanding what the Commodore and the Vice Commodore think, the Secretary, of course, really does run the Club. [much applause for Julia] The Secretary does everything, apart from count money, because that is the job of the Treasurer.
The Treasurer can usually be found trying to enjoy a meal in peace, or a quiet drink, or to trying to get their yacht ready for a race while being accosted by people trying to either give them money or extract it from them. If the treasurer is lucky, those asking for money will possess an invoice or a receipt; but more likely they will have forgotten or lost this, or will have written everything down on a tiny, easily lost scrap of paper. Those giving the hassled treasurer money, can only watch as it is stuffed into a random pocket and hope the treasurer doesnít spend it on beer.
The only other thing the Treasurer has to do is to draw up a set of accounts at the end of the year. They do this as late as possible so that no-one has much time to scrutinise it and then get a mate to audit it, so that it looks good. Whether the numbers actually match reality, only the Treasurer will ever knowÖ
Then there are the ordinary committee members. These come in two types. There are those who see meetings as a pleasant opportunity to socialise with their fellow sailors. They can have a few drinks, put the world to rights, occasionally pay attention to the business of the meeting and vote when required, even if they are not quite sure what for. They can then go home, filled with the warm glow of satisfaction, having done their bit for the club.
The other sort of committee member is only there for the glory. Their sole aim is to become Commodore and therefore Very Important. Overall, the main purpose of the committee is to give the appearance to the rest of the membership that their club is a well run and democratic organisation. This is supposed to hide the fact that the Secretary does everything.
We also run races, as you know, and there is a whole other team to do this, led by the Officer of the Day; otherwise known as the O O D, or Ooood. (This is short for Oooo-dear I donít know what Iím doing). However, the OOD doesnít actually have to do anything, as they have people for that, apart from ramble on at bit something called a briefing. If inclined, however, they can fill their time by putting out a board on the start line and hanging some numbers on it. These come in both red and green and there are also some arrows and the odd letter to mix it up a bit. In theory, they should be hung in the order you told everyone at the race briefing, but donít worry if you have changed your mind or (more likely) forgotten what you said, as no-one will look at them.
First in the team is the Timekeeper. This is another counting job, but for this you have to be able to count backwards. And nobody will give you any money. It is quite simple and easy, though, as you only have to count backwards from five to zero and you get to do it several times, so practice will make perfect. Oh, yes, you also have to write down some times at the end of the race, but as long as you can read a clock, that bit is really easy. Yes, I know the numbers keep changing, but just pick some and write them down.
Then there is the Gun. All the gun has to do is listen to the person doing the counting Ė that is the Timekeeper, not the Treasurer Ė and when they reach zero, pull the trigger. You will find this activity often attracts a fleet of yachts, which have no doubt come to admire your manly stance as you fire your gun. They will circle around for a while before apparently getting bored and sailing off. Try not to be offended.
Also on the line is someone to play with the flags. This is a fun, easy job. You will be given a bag with lots of brightly coloured flags, out of which you can choose a selection to play with. It doesnít really matter which ones, as nobody will look at them. Pick your favourite colours, or perhaps those of your football team. All you have to do is hoist one up the flagpole whenever the timekeeper reaches zero. To ring the changes, sometimes you could pull one down instead or, once you feel confident, trying pulling different flags up and down simultaneously. If you are really clever, you can synchronise with the gun firing and get some really good patterns going. However, donít worry if you are not in time with either the gun or the timekeeper: as I said, no-one will be looking.
It occurs to me at this point that perhaps the most important person in the club is actually the person firing the gun, as they are the only one anybody ever pays any attention to!
Finally, we have the person who calculates the race results. This is another simple job. At the end of the racing, you will be given a sheet with lots of numbers on it and all you have to do is change them around to make some different numbers. This is the method:
Start with the top row. The first one, two or three numbers in each row will have been copied off the sails of those yachts that were milling around earlier. Ignore them for now (but donít lose them). Further along the row you will see two sets of numbers which are the times that the timekeeper copied off the clock (more or less). Take the first one away from the second one, remembering to work in sixtieths, not hundredths. This will give you a five figure number. Probably. If the first number is a one, turn it into a sixty. If it is a two, turn that into one twenty. (Donít turn this second one into a sixty, but leave it as a one). You are unlikely to have a bigger number than two as your first number: the timekeeper will have got bored and gone to the pub long before reaching three hours.
Then add your sixty or your one twenty to the next two numbers to make a bigger number, which you then multiply by sixty to make a really big number. Add the final two numbers of your original number to this very big number. Save it somewhere.
Now you can go back to those sail numbers and this is where the mystical, magic bit of the process happens, understood by few and argued over by many. Consult the bible; otherwise known as the green book. Those sail numbers will be listed, along with some names and some more numbers called handicaps. Find your sail number and then the handicap number that matches it. Take this number (thatís the handicap, not the sail number) and subtract it from one hundred. Unless it has a little plus sign, when you can add it to one hundred instead. Or, if it is a zero, donít do anything.
Now take this new number and multiply it by the very big number that you saved earlier and then divide your new, new number by a hundred. And then divide it again by sixty. Your number will probably have a dot in it by now, so ignore the numbers after the dot (but donít lose them) and look at the number you have and if it is bigger than sixty, take away sixty and turn it into a one. If it is still over sixty, take another sixty away and turn it into another one. Add these two ones together. (That makes two). Write down your one or your two, then put a dot and then write down the two numbers you have left over, with another dot after them.
Are you keeping up?
Now you can take the numbers after your original dot (not the new dots) and divide them by a hundred, then multiply them by sixty. Keep the first two numbers of this new number and write them down after your second new dot. (Thatís the third dot). You now have a brand new shiny time which is different from any of the times you started with. Probably.
And that is the first row done! Do the same with all the other rows, then put your new numbers into order from smallest to biggest and the one at the top gets a sparkly trophy and will be very happy.
And go and have a beer!
So, now that you all know what the jobs in the club entail, I expect a rush of volunteers, which should keep us going well into the future and gives me the confidence to propose the usual toast: to the Yare Sailing Club.Ē
The Commodore spoke for 12 minutes and 24 seconds, with Paul Comer being just 4 seconds out with his guess and so taking the sweepstake. The photographic competition was won for the second year running by Eve Cronin, with an eye-catching photograph of her daughter watching Joe with his dinghy at Coldham Hall boatyard. The main prize-giving then followed, with Wandering Rose retaining the Luna Barometer and Morning Calm winning the Club Championship, which was decided at the Turkey Race. Jean Vaughan was the popular winner of the hamper.