To Members and Guests, 4th December 2001
Welcome to the 18th AGM of the Shorthanded Sailing Assoc of Australia, and especially to any new members here who joined this year. Unfortunately a number have called in with apologies for not being here tonight because of other commitments this being quite close to the Christmas period. Next year we should maybe hold the AGM a few weeks earlier, so as not to conflict with the Xmas period.
This year has seen mixed results for the SSAA.
Firstly, the upside, not necessarily in any particular order---
This activity helps build awareness of not only the SSAA but shorthanded sailing in general.
Secondly, three aspects have been of concern this year.
1. Races have been poorly attended
Our racing program this year was designed following a questionnaire to members last year, and offered three levels of participation. All three were not well attended, and it is thought that having too many races led to dilution in all races. So should we revert to a race program next year of only one race per month. This can be canvassed under general business following.
2. Insurance is now some 28% of our income.
Our insurance premium has increased from $1000 in 1998 to $1,700 in 1999 to the present $2,500. Our cash flow stream will have to support this.
3. Our usually strong social program has suffered this year.
Unfortunately no one has come forward to handle this key element of the SSAA, and the limited committee has been in overload and unable to give the time to the necessary organization. I remember great social gatherings at this and other venues in past years and we need someone to take hold of this aspect of the SSAA. Maybe if we had closer ties with a club or two, having such a base, would make social interaction between members easier. Most if not all major yacht clubs have cruising groups. Should we have a similar approach, so as we tire of the hard core racing we can still enjoy sharing a beer with friends we have made during our days of shorthanded racing.
Membership, history and trends
I thought it might be useful for members to have an idea of membership history over the past five years.
new members(Jan-Dec) Financial members
1998 20 97/98 99
1999 12 98/99 92(-7%)
2000 12 99/00 77(-16%)
2001 15 (+25%) 74 (-4%)
You may recall our membership year changed from a July-June period to a Jan-Dec period beginning 2000, so the above reflects that change. We could say that our program for 2001 has turned the tide of our declining membership as we have seen a 25% increase in new members this year compared to the two years prior. It might be an appropriate time to question why the decline? Have we been heading in the right direction, or more appropriately have we had a direction, or have we lost direction?
The declining membership over the years is certainly of concern especially when we reflect on the number that have been through our doors and chosen not to stay. Why have they not stayed? Why did they join in the first place? Has their perception of what we are about and what we offer not been what was expected? It might be interesting to also realize that only some 15 boats do more than one or two races with us, so only 20% of our members actually race.
Why do we have the membership we do. I firmly believe it is because the bulk of member relate to, or wish to have the chance to interrelate with shorthanded sailors and what they do. The ‘horse must be kept in front of the cart’ so we need to keep a challenging and vital shorthanded racing program and from this a healthy membership will follow. A vision/purpose statement will help in this regard.
The topic of the SSAA becoming YA/AYF affiliated has been widely canvassed recently. I believe we are at a crossroads in our existence and a wrong turn here could be very harmful. One thing is for sure---the world isn’t what it used to be. The ’98 Hobart race was the start of major changes for yachting, or probably the fatal ’79 Fastnet race before that. The events of September 11th have also changed the world forever. The outcome of these events is that we need to have our race administration properly structured and our butts totally covered, as the legal framework under which we live is constantly being pressed. Should there be an incident during an SSAA event and we remain outside mainstream yachting administration with exposed butts, the result could be devastating for the association and the committee of the day.
The decision on affiliation is primarily about risk management. A ‘98 Hobart tragedy could happen at any time and I personally know, if I need to be rescued, it would give me more comfort knowing the AYF administration was behind my rescue.
Members have shown concern regarding affiliation and its impact on the running of single handed events. Please realize, AYF affiliation does not mean we can’t run single handed events. If we did however, those races would not be sanctioned under the current ISAF interpretation of the regaulations to prevent collisions at sea if run outside daylight hours. They never were, so there is no change. All two handed events, and solo events run during daylight hours, would be sanctioned so this is the benefit, together with any insurance and comfort that goes with that.
A side benefit of affiliation is that our membership could increase markedly. All crew regularly sailing in events with M.Y.A. clubs now have to be a member of an affiliated club. If we become affiliated we offer an easy path for this to happen, and this should be promoted.
My huge thanks to the committee this year for their support. The small team has achieved a great deal. Merry Xmas to everyone and I hope Santa delivers the goods for you and your families.
SSAA President 2001