The past season, 2017, was a period in which we continued to build on the work done by previous committees and members. Our programs for increasing membership and greater use of the club continued unabated. I believe that these initiatives, despite a poor sailing year in terms of the impact of the weather, moved the club forward as the premier water activity centre in Skerries. This was only possible, as always, due to the help of many volunteers not least your committee members.
While Ross will speak in more detail about our sailing season I should like to thank our Race Officers – Liam Dineen, Micheline Shiels and Helen Ryan for keeping our racing going each weekend. Our thanks to our punt men – Stephen, Conor and Ben for the successful running of the punt service. Special thanks to the many volunteers who manned the Safety and Mark laying RIBs during the season. Thanks to Brian McNally, Ross and the Mermaid Championship organising team for their diligent work in producing a very successful event. Without such levels of voluntary contribution, we could not run the level of club and event racing each season that we actually do!
At this time, I should like to confirm that we have been awarded the 2020 World GP14 Championship event. Already an organising committee has been established under the chairmanship of David Cooke. Initial long-term actions are being addressed. Some of you will remember that SSC ran this same event with 140 competitors back in 1997, very successfully. While seeming to be a long time away such an event takes a lot of organising and preparation. Lets all make sure that David and his team have our full support.
The Membership Program
In late 2015 following a review of operations and costs your then committee decided that a revitalised membership drive was urgently required. It was felt that given the improved economic conditions of recent years, our membership numbers particularly, at full subscription, did not reflect that improvement. A team was set up and Gerry Byrne was invited to lead. Following a number of meetings in early 2016 and review of a survey of past and present members, Just Sailing was set up. This involved, on every Saturday morning of the 2016 and the 2017 sailing season, taking new adult members out on the water just sailing, and when the weather did not allow, giving instruction on various aspects of sailing in the club house. All spearheaded by Gerry who was very ably assisted by Helen Ryan, who having travelled from Leixlip, provided not only her sailing expertise and support but much appreciated coffee and cake. Our warmest thanks to both Gerry and Helen.
The impact was to increase new member intake by 46 persons over the two years. Separately and just as importantly many existing members have got involved and are using this facility to expand their sailing capabilities.
Our thanks also to members who either loaned their boats or who acted as instructors – particularly to Neil Cramer, Cathal Sheridan, Coleman Grimes, Don Cromer, Liam O’Callaghan, Finn Kelleher, Garry Owens, and Bernie Grogan.
This program will be continued in 2018. Already 4 free “introductions to sailing” talks (in addition to regular talks) in the March timeframe have started. Much local advertising has been done including displaying the club Wayfarer in the Community Hall at a clubs show event before Christmas, which took some effort to transport to and from and of course to rig in the hall! We advertised via our webpage, facebook page, The Skerries Community Association newsflash and numerous WhatApps and of course last week in the Skerries News where Gerry was interviewed. The impact of this was to attract 26 adults with 4 apologies at the first talk held last Tuesday night (March 6th)!
We request continued support for this important program and if you are available on one or more Saturdays in the coming season please let us know. As Gerry will be away, unfortunately for most of this summer please contact Neil or myself or any committee member for details.
Neil will go through the accounts in detail. Despite the impact of the cancellation of several sailing days you will see that we are in good health with overall assets of the club raising by 7.5%. More importantly subscriptions (including racing and parking fees) rose by 8% having previously risen by 6% last year, continuing a strong pattern in the right direction. A lot of hard work goes into the financial management of this club and our thanks to Neil Cramer for managing the multitude of operational fiscal matters in all forms. Thanks Neil. Our thanks also to Siobhan Boylan who manages our membership records – a job that requires great detailed and persistent management. Thanks Siobhan. Our thanks also to Donal Lynam who managed the club well in the past year and Andrew Pollock for his assistance in providing bar account reports.
Initiatives on the Social front proved very popular. The “Take Away Friday” evenings with reduced bar prices and the Scones and Coffee on Sunday mornings continued to be well supported and continued into the winter months. Other events included Mother’s Day dinner, Club BBQs, A well-attended Fun Quiz night, Several Music nights with Genepool, a Spanish night paella on the balcony, an Italian night, the Xmas Dinner attended by Santa – thanks to Dell Brennan, and of course the ever-popular Seafood nights.
Well done to Kathryn Collins, Paula McNamee, our Social Secretary, Colum Collins and Donal Lynam, our Club Manager, for organising these events.
Your continued support for these events in your club is appreciated.
Great work by Tom Adams and Stuart Burns supported by Sam Shiels and Robbie Keys has ensured that our boats were and will be ready for the upcoming season. These guys quietly do a fantastic job! We have about €155k worth of RIBs, Punts and Committee boat (the Inish Rua) in simple replacement value. These volunteers maintain these assets for approximately €4k each year in parts. 3% of the replacement cost. That is a great job in any terms. Thanks Guys
Wednesday Evening Member Talks
Since the end of the 2017 sailing season we have had 7 talks covering a wide variety of topics. 3 more remain before the start of the new season (including the rescheduled History of Skerries RNLI Station by Sam Shiels). These talks were all well attended and our thanks to the club members who gave some of these talks including Martin O’Toole, Brian Lennon, Gerry Byrne, Liam Dinneen, Helen Ryan, Sam Shiels and Paul Synnott, and Paul Hick. We hope you enjoyed these events.
The newsletter, going out weekly and often more frequently during the sailing season, has firmly established itself as our primary means of communications due to the dedicated hard work of Camilla McLoughlin, our Hon Secretary. Our thanks to her for her great work. The SSC face pages and website are fully active. Please make sure that you have access to both these communications mediums.
A full and successful season was run by our ever active Junior section. Highlights included
- In early part of the year running their familiar Spring Training with coaching for 30 kids followed by their annual popular Taste of Sailing over 3 weeks with the support of many club boat owners.
- The summer ISA courses had over 52 participants. The annual Junior Regatta was held in September and attracted 35 sailors. The challenge of poor weather that day was met with all races being run and the whole thing wrapped up shortly after lunchtime. It has been dubbed the ‘Express Regatta’. Well done guys.
- The Autumn Training was completed in September and October again despite some challenging weather conditions.
- Throughout the sailing season while regular races were held on Thursdays and Saturdays the continuing weather challenge and low turnouts meant that this was not that successful. A challenge for next season will be to ensure that appropriate sailing activities are organised to encourage the kids out onto the water regularly to practice the skills learnt during training.
- An additional Topper and Mirror boats for use by members was acquired. And through a Sports Capital Grant a new storage container was installed in the yard and is being fitted out and when completed will give us appropriate storage for all the junior gear, freeing up space in the club basement.
Well done to our Junior Convenor Will Hinsley and his team of Andrew Frazer, Tom Connell, Gavin Callender, Debbie McInerney, George O’Connor and Olive Parker. Thanks Guys.
An area that did not always get the full attention it deserved but that we need to continue focusing on. We have started a program of rewiring the old house as requested by our insurers – thanks to Paul Browne for assistance in managing this program. Our weather station is working well on the website thanks to Michael Johnson. We have several action plans in terms of maintenance and decoration that we expect to advance in the coming season.
As ever our yard was well managed by our Yard Manager Gerry Boylan. Nothing escapes this man. The yard continues to be as tidy as it has been in years. Well done Gerry.
We completed a successful season and are looking forward to an even more successful 2018.
Finally, it has been a great privilege for me to be Commodore of our club. I very much enjoyed my time as your Commodore.
As I step down as Commodore I say thanks to my committee and members for the honour bestowed on me and wish Kathryn every success in her coming tenure.