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National Windsurfing Championships 2018
16/11/18
Iona receiving her trophy from Guy Cribb having come first in her fleet (4.5m)

Decide on the Club's future....

Thinking
Date Date: 09/12/07
In Motion Issue 111 - Chair Piece - The Final Issue??

Following my article in the last issue of In Motion, calling for volunteers to help run the club, I'm pleased to offer my thanks to those who did volunteer their services. Regrettably it still leaves us unable to muster a committee that meets with the requirements of our constitution and therefore begs the question of where do we go from here? When we couple this with the turnout we have been getting (or not getting) on the beach each weekend it is clear that we are unable to continue as we have been doing.

As you are aware last year was the club's 15th birthday and it has seen some great times - starting off with just twelve members at the end of the first year, 57 the second and 103 the third. This is considerably less than we have now and we had no problem mustering a full committee and a healthy turnout each weekend. So you have to ask yourself what's different now. Well the vast majority of the members used to live in London and looked forward to getting away, down to the beach each weekend, without the benefit of today's accurate weather forecasts. Mobile phones had just been invented (2 years previously I had a company mobile that came in a pilots case!!) and some people were beginning to talk about a thing called the Internet! How times change. Lots of us have now moved down to the coast, we have remarkably accurate forecasts and the ability to communicate freely with each other. Given a bit of global warming and the almost none existent winds we have experienced this year and the net result - is a lack of bums on beaches!

Failing any rescue plan, the writing is on the wall. We are faced with winding the club up. As the constitution stipulates that we need to refund any proportion of the membership fee outstanding to each member prior to donating the balance to charity, the obvious date for such action to take effect from would be 28th February 2008 i.e. the end of this current year. One of the matters for debate at the AGM, to be held on Saturday 16th February at Seacourt again on Hayling Island, would then be the agreement of an appropriate charity. But hey, lets hope such drastic measures will not be necessary!

Your committee (John, Andrew, Stephen and myself) have come up with a cunning plan to keep the club functioning outwardly, for all intents and purposes, relatively unchanged. It does however involve some fundamental changes to the way we operate and would involve some rather more extensive changes to the constitution.

The proposals I detail below are therefore our suggestion with respect to how we can keep the club alive and moving club forward and they are intended to generate a debate, the conclusion of which is up to you. The result of this debate however needs to be concluded prior to Christmas to enable us to get the resultant modifications to the constitution drafted and out to the members with the formal notification of the AGM, complete with voting papers for those that cant attend in person, shortly after Christmas, with 16th January as the deadline.

I hope that puts everything in perspective. Get your best creative thinking caps on with the timescale in mind and lets see what you can come up with!

When we sat down to analyse the key workload and cost drivers affecting the club we came up with the following conclusions: Cost wise our principal expense is this magazine followed by our public liability insurance cover. Workwise it is the collection of the membership fees together with administration of the database, the compilation of the magazine and the administration involved in getting the events programme hosted every weekend. This latter point has become more and more of a problem recently as, due to the declining number of members on the beach, there is a significant chance that the poor old host is going to be sitting there on his own and hence more of a reluctance to volunteer!

With regard to strengths on the other hand we have a great bunch of hard core members who want to continue to have the facility to sail together, on the rare occasions when we get any wind, we have a great interactive communication medium in the guise of our new website and we have a healthy bank balance.

In the light of the above the solution to our problems appears to be self evident:

1)Continue to have a formal summer events programme, as in the past, hosted by volunteers where individuals feel so inclined. If however the forecast is predicting no wind or indeed if the host has any other reason for not wanting to turn up there should be no onus on them to do so. All they need to do is post an entry on the website accordingly.

2) Do away with In Motion and rely solely on the website for communication purposes.

3)Do away with membership i.e. make membership free to anyone who wants to join which they would undertake by signing onto the website.

4)Investigate how we might try to reduce our insurance premiums. Unfortunately whilst we have any formal entity with a Committee and members responsible for organising events we lay ourselves open to prosecution should we be held liable for damages of any nature. We cannot expect any member to have to take on that responsibility without the appropriate third party liability protection but it is worth investigating whether it might be possible to reduce the premium we currently pay.

So, quite simple really. But what are the pros and cons? Well, whilst we solve all of the problems listed above there are a couple of major problems. Apart from the fact that most of us will sorely miss the magazine we would be likely to be putting the club into a controlled terminal decline. We would not be actively seeking new members and for those that did join and turn up there would be no membership pack to introduce them to the club or anticipation of their arrival and an appropriate welcome on the beach.

In terms of funding however, even taking the insurance premium at its current level, we would be able to function in the mode outlined above for something in the order of 10 years, the only other expenses being web hosting and nominal administration costs.


So in conclusion we have three possible ways forward:

1)We get sufficient volunteers to fill the current committee positions. These need to be dedicated committed members who feel they are capable of instilling sufficient new life into the club to reverse the decline in membership and turnout on the beach. As you are aware I'm currently acting as Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Events Secretary whilst Andrew is acting as both Membership Secretary and Webmaster. Whilst I am not willing or able to continue to fulfil all these roles the constitution requires me to step down at the end of next year. There is obviously therefore a significant level of commitment required from others if this to provide a solution - and from your responses to date this would not appear to offer a viable way forward.

2)Alternatively we wind the club up with effect from the AGM in February,

3)Or we find some form of compromise situation as suggested above.

The decision is in your hands. I look forward to hearing your response, seeing you at the AGM and hopefully enjoying some cracking sailing with you next year.

Mike Tate

Last updated: 09/12/07 14:55 By: Haylingmike
Views: 2002

Added by Dave T on 25/11/07

(In reply to Mike Tates note)
I certainly feel that the summer of 2007 has been particularly poor for wind which meant that I haven't managed to participate in weekend coastal windsurfing. I live near Reading and the thought of a two hour drive for dodgy wind isn't too appealing !

However, I do appreciate the opportunities OMWC has offered me to sail in company at the coast. I would be sad if it proved necessary to "wind up" the club but do also see that some changes are desirable (now that many of the members have families will have lessened their flexibility and ability to participate or help).

So I would be in favour of a compromise for now; should things change we could always review the position. Sadly, I won't be able to attend the AGM as I will be on a plane returning from New Zealand
Dave T

Added by Jude on 26/11/07

An interesting debate. I too would be sad to see OMWC would up completely as I still think that there are enough people who wish to meet up to a) sail together and 8) socialise in the evening. That said, there is no doubt that numbers are a lot lower, but this could be in part due to poor weather over the summer and the fact that a lot of members now seem to live outside of London and it's more convenient for them to sail local to home (I include myself in that). I wonder whether a less frequent summer schedule may work - say once a month, with the other weekends being less formal and more on a 'chase the wind' format. That way we would need to find less host volunteers, and there may be more of an incentive for people to come along if it was a once a month event.

As for the mag, I personally really like receiving it, but can see that it requires a lot of input, and given that the new website is great for posting reports/diaries/news etc.. it does almost seem surplus to requirement (not to mention not as environmentally friendly!). It would be sad to see it go, but again I wonder if it's continuation can be justified - or whether a yearly 'round-up' edition may be all that is needed.

Regarding finances, it would seem logical that in the event of things being pared down membership fees could justifiably be scrapped. What to do with the coffers at the moment is another issue. While the constitution says that members should be refunded, I wonder whether it may be a good idea to use the money instead towards a 'winter bash'. I don't recall any event being subsidised by the club in the past, which seems a shame as a lot of clubs do have a subsidised social event at some point in their calender, and I feel that they are a good way to get members together and re-energise the club. Afterall, it is members money.

I'm hoping to be able to come along to the AGM, but will depend on how close to the event Harford Jnr arrives (due end of Jan).

Jude

Added by adrian on 26/11/07

For me, I would really like the club to remain and I would miss not being able to preplan & sail with regular faces most weekends. The club/club site is what brings it all togther every weekend. As long as there is an event not too far and is fun to sail at, then without too many familly ties, I will be there. My problem has been not being able to stay over and wonder how many people do now stay down for both days. Maybe this is something that needs discussion. Also I usually can only sail 1 day at the weekend again due to familly ties. I also think it is worth looking at the places we sail and see how many have been poplular over the years. As for the mag I feel maybe a summer and winter issue is all that is needed. One for the start of the season with the dates, contact details etc, so we can keep a copy in the van, But also filled with pics & stories from over the winter.
One at the end of autumn to just to remember those mad events & pics of the spring/summer, even if most events have been seen on the website.

As for the comittee ?????

Adrian

Added by johng on 26/11/07

This club has a lot of value, with its rotation of venues, both Sarf Coast and further afield, and genuine "non-heroic" membership (apologies if you're a hero...), which have inspired me and lots of others to improve and go further afield. However, it's actually a deal of work to run in the manner that it is currently constructed, and something has to change if nobody wants to run it like that! So what are the things that have value?
- scheduled events; these bring people together, so you meet old/new friends, and people who want to try a venue or meet the club know where to go to do so
- a range of venues; sure yeh, there are clubs with houses... but there's more to life than one place
If we reduce the club maintenance to just these things, then we're still left with someone planning a schedule. I wonder how much effort this is? It takes looking up the tide times against the list of possible venues (itself a bone of contention!), then matching them up with bank holidays etc. Is all we need an events person, who plans it for the year, puts it on the website and it then runs itself, with people turning up or not, indicating this on the website? Or do we plan say a month in advance, which gives most people a chance to plan, whilst not requiring a fixed, large, upfront effort? But be assured, anything that requires a schedule requires effort, and that's what people don't seem to want to make! But if you want something, yah gotta put out at least sometimes...
Or do we just buy the remaining committee members a nice holiday somewhere warm and windy?! [JOKE, for the avoidance of doubt...]

Last updated: 27/11/07 00:31 By: johng

Added by jonathan on 06/12/07

It's very difficult to get to the heart of the problem, but I think the basic issue is simply that for an increasing number of members, the club is becoming more of a "dip-in, dip-out" club as opposed to the past when many members (myself included) would almost religiously turn up every weekend, regardless of the forecast.

There are of course a number of reasons for this - people moving closer to the coast, children, a poor year for wind (upto a fortnight ago!) and I think most importantly - more confident sailors. I don't think there are that many members now who would be tempted down to an event unless there was either a decent change of planing wind, or some other attraction (demo, beautiful beach weather, etc).

Now it is hard to see that much of this is going to change anytime soon. The only thing I can really see changing this, is an influx of new members. And here's the nub of the problem: in my experience you need 2 things to bring in new members:
a) an active committee with plenty of time on their hands and plenty of good ideas for marketing the club
8) a decent turnout on the beach (regardless of weather) to immediately welcome new members and demonstrate that it is worth going to the beach even if there is little wind

As Mike says, we currently have neither a) nor 8) - and that's with absolutely no disrespect to the current committee.

So this seems to steer us towards the compromise solution suggested by Mike. However what I think does need stressing is that even under this scenario there is still a need for a reasonable amount of work to keep the website going and to ensure there are hosts for summer events etc. Are there going to be any volunteers to do this?

The other aspect of this compromise solutuion that could be very important, is that it kind of puts the club in suspense / deep freeze but whilst a) still allowing existing members to keep in touch and 8) allowing new members in.

This allows the possibility that in a few years' time, who knows, some of the existing members may have more time on their hands or we may have some new members who want to bring the club out of "suspense" and kick-off a membership drive (or given the current baby boom we may have created enough new members to provide the next membership influx).

It therefore may be more sensible adjust the club's activities to match its resources rather than to allow it to come to an abrupt end. The former gives us options for the future (as well as allowing the club to function at some level) whereas there is no going back from the latter.

On the other hand, if there is anyone out there dying to create the next committee and drive the club forward - even better!! You'll get my vote at the AGM...

Added by rogerta on 06/12/07

If you look at the background, windsurfing is not particularly a thriving sport. OK you may get people coming out of the woodwork every now and again, but its been in decline since the early 90's. All those fanatics of the 80's have been growing older and taking on family committments. Windsurfing is a bit like the housing market, no first time buyers. There have been a multitude of other sports for kids to do. Look at the huge windsurfing exhibitions at Ally Pally in the 80's - no more. All the shops which have folded as a result of the lack of customers. Is it a terminal decline - I don't think so, the sport enthused sufficient numbers to always remain alive, just not in the fashion of 15-20 years ago.

Therefore, in my opinion the writing's on the wall, we do need to change. We do need to gear ourselves up for a much smaller and simpler format.

You have to ask whats important about the club. For me its the people. Sharing a great day with a group of friends and then rounding it off with a beer or five is what encapsulates the club - for me.

How much organisation we need for this is what should really be up for debate. I don't think it needs a cast of thousands, but then it definitely needs some focal point. Mike's right, there needs to be a compromise. Key to that is having an events diary. There does need to be degree of flexibility though. If its crap, cancel it, if the winds not in the right direction, change it.

Whether we need a committee and a constituition to provide anymore of a focal point, I don't know. The club is pretty self motivated when there is wind around or there is a party. The areas which would suffer without a committee will be the mega bash and the magazine. Thats the sacrifice.

In answer to Mike's proposals
1) Continue the summer events - definitely, but with flexibility
2) Do away with In Motion - would be sad to see it go but it is an overhead although John does an excellent job
3) Do away with membership - not an issue, the fees are worth it whatever form it takes.
4) Insurance - dunno, not a legal type.

Added by kdebeer on 30/12/07

I have recently joined and very much hope the club continues. I think a compromise option makes sense and wonder if the club was less formal, might the insurance issue be got around by specifying that everyone needs their own third party cover, and that the club itself bears no responsibility?

Added by Haylingmike on 03/01/08

Many thanks for all your responses to my "Decide the Club's Future" article. Regretably we haven't been inundated with offers from members to help run the Club but then, on the positive side, no one has suggested we should wind it up either!

In the light of your comments I have drafted appropriate revisions to the Constitution which will be circulated with the formal notice for the AGM. One of the principle items on the agenda will then be to vote on and hopefully approve the new Constitution as a final act for the 2007 season, prior to electing a new committee and getting stuck into 2008.

We are in the midst of putting out the call for committee nominations but in view of the fact that we are proposing a fundemental, root and branch change to the structure and mechamisms of the way the Club operates it is important that everyone is given the opportunity to have their say. This includes those members who can't make it to the AGM who, in accordance with the Constitution, are of course entitled to vote by proxy. In order to ensure therefore that everyone gets their due opportunity it is important that we follow the Constitution - which very conveniently addresses all such matters! As a result however any nominations for committee positions, or indeed any special resolutions that you may want put on the agenda for the meeting, have to be with me by Saturday 19th January.

Several members have made comments about abandoning our third party liability insurance cover in order to save the Club's funds. I am not a legal expert but as I understand it there are two separate issues here. Firstly when you join the Club each member signs an undertaking to maintain individual third party liability insurance cover for the duration of their membership. Whilst this is only common sense from a personal point of view (no responsible person would consider driving a car without the appropriate cover) but it is also a requirement of the Club's policy that you maintain that level of cover and indemnify the Club accordingly. Hence if you, whilst you were sailing, were to inflict damage on a member of the public they would be able to sue and obtain damages via your insurance cover rather than having to resort to the Club Chairman, at the time of the accident, being the person who ultimately the courts would have to try to turn to for compensation, if you were not covered. Secondly for any event that the Club organises we have a corporate liability. Say one of our flagpoles snaps or collapses in a strong wind and pokes out a member of the public's eye, blinding them, the Club ie the Chairman could be held responsible and be liable to be sued for millions of pounds. Or say a barbeque is pulled over by a toddler of some member of the public, causing lifetime injuries, the consequences are uninmaginable! In the light of this I dont believe there is any question with respect to the need for insurance cover - purely a matter of what is the cheapest policy that will provide the appropriate level of protection to the Club's Officers. If anyone has any information to the contrary do please add your piece!

Added by Eric on 03/01/08

Sorry for my delayed contribution to this debate. Mike is absolutely right in as much that so long as the club has indivduals identifyable as officers or organisers of the club, those individuals may be held legally liable,
vicariously at least, for any negligent actions of club members which result in death, bodily injury, or damage to third party property.

The clubs current public liability insurance is arranged on the understanding that club members undertake to provide their own public liability insurance for windsurfing activities by way of a specific windsurfing policy, RYA membership etc. Anyone who windsurfs in the UK or abroad without such personal cover is certainly exposing themselves to uninsured risk. It is also worth pointing out that the majority of home insurance policies no longer provide cover for such activities.

This arrangement has helped to keep the club's insurance premium down to a managable level over the years, despite the ongoing trend for cover of this type to become increasingly expensive,as a conseqence of the litigious times in which we all now live.

Unless the club were to totally dis-band adequate public liability insurance
should be maintained for the protection of those holding organising positions.

Eric



Last updated: 04/01/08 00:52 By: Eric

Added by Kiwi Steve on 07/02/08

There has been a lot of focus on amending the Constitution but little debate on how the club will actually operate in the future. The issue is that we are not getting enough hosts and people turning up at the beach. There have been various ideas kicked around about how things might work in the future but nothing has been put to the membership.

The AGM needs to discuss this and how the club will operate and get some consensus. The key decider will be how many hosts sign up for 2008. I'm sure we get some hosts volunteering for 2008 from the Megabash - but the issue of people not turning up for a no wind weekend will persist. This situation is ultimately not fair on the host having to sit around all weekend. Unless they want to ofcourse.

Personally I think the way to go is to:

-Reduce the OMWC season to April-Sept
- Fixed events for Easter, Bank Holidays and two fixed events per month
- Chase the wind for the rest of the time possibly with multiple hosts depending on location and abilities. If there is no wind - inform everyone on Thrs/Friday there is no event. Wait till the next chase the wind weekend and try again or it'll be a fixed event when it will happen wind or not.
- Make the events more DIY via the website so people can sort themselves out and not rely on the host i.e. provide all the B&B/acommodation, pub, map, beach info.

Cheers,

Kiwi Steve