This letter to members is from Rob Drury, President and does not necessarily reflect the views of the committee.

To:  SSAA Members

From: Rob Drury, President                                17th October 2001

Dear Members,

As the year end draws near, I am prompted to write to members, reflecting on the year past, and advise about my thoughts, plans, direction and aspirations for next year, 2002.

There are six key issues to be considered at the AGM:

1.      Acceptance of our Purpose/Vision Statement by our membership.

2.      A possible revision of our sailing program to step back from running short course races—an explanation follows.

3.      The wide promotion and running of our biennial 2002 Tranz Tasman Double Handed Race and support of other major shorthanded races on offer around the world.

4.      Approach the AYF/YANSW for affiliation, similar to that as per SSANZ of NZ and the SSS of USA have with their national bodies

5.      To give our social program a big boost.

6.      Install further improvements to our web site and data base.

1.      SSAA Vision/Purpose Statement

This was first presented to members earlier this year. There has been virtually no reaction from members so it could be assumed it is acceptable and reflects the desire of the membership that this is ‘what we are about, where we want to be and where we want to go’. It has been slightly re-tuned as per the enclosed newsletter 10/01. This will be presented to the AGM for acceptance. Please give it due consideration and forward any comments you may have beforehand.

2.   Sailing Program Revision.

During the course of this year, some new initiatives were introduced to our sailing program, largely resulting from a survey sent to members at the end of last year, 2000. We held three series, a short course SC, a long course LC, and an open OS series.

Overall, entries were low, with main interest in the SC and OS series races. (Again the Port Stephens race was a great race as was the entire weekend. Thanks again to James Davern  for the Wandin Valley experience!) Our sailing program of 21 races put the dedicated small committee into overload. The races weren’t as well organised or promoted as they should be and the committee received criticism because of this. One answer is -----reduce the number of races ---and there may be other good reasons for this as follows.

In parallel with the SSAA, the RPAYC now conduct a successful short course shorthanded sailing program, for an inshore group and an offshore group. This impacts on possible starters in our program. Past SSAA members now sail with RPAYC for example. (why? you might ask—maybe they were disenchanted with our offering—with race management and not being AYF affiliated? )

Our vision, our charter, is to see shorthanded sailing flourish. So, rather than compete with RPAYC for participants should we not encourage RPAYC and other clubs (e.g. MHYC) that have the necessary infrastructure to offer shorthanded sailing events?  Should we therefor, step back from offering short course racing?

If we were to focus on the OS type races not offered elsewhere, (here is our niche opportunity) and leave short course races to others, our sport would likely progress moreso. Clubs offering short course races would gain from us and we from them by likely attracting more starters into our OS, longer course events. A win--win situation! And above all else, competitors will enjoy the racing more because there will be more yachts on starting lines.

Successful small businesses are businesses that have a specific and focused niche in their market place. The SSAA is no different. Isn’t the association here primarily to lift the awareness of and promote shorthanded sailing within the wider sailing community. We are not here to compete for membership or participation with other clubs who offer shorthanded sailing programs. Our niche, our mission, is to promote the shorthanded dimension of sailing and to offer a shorthanded sailing program outside and beyond what other clubs offer. If we do this well we will flourish.

It is interesting to see how other shorthanded sailing associations operate. The SSANZ have up to 50 boats on their starting lines. see The SSANZ have a limited sailing program but a number of clubs in Auckland offer short course shorthanded racing—maybe we should also follow their model---and this fits within our vision statement.

Would this approach build wider interest in and awareness of shorthanded sailing and likely build more numbers in our OS series and Tranz Tasman races? Existing clubs have the infrastructure and are better able to handle short course racing, provision of starting / finishing boats and staff, rounding marks etc. This would also eliminate problems associated with our competitors taking their own finishing time. On occasions we have had a number of boats finishing in very close proximity and our need for participants to take their own finishing times has led to acrimony.

Following this example, we could approach other clubs around Australia and encourage them to run short course shorthanded races. Already shorthanded races are offered in Melbourne and Adelaide and we have absolutely nothing to do with those events or clubs. We should, shouldn’t we, being the SSA of Australia?

3. Promotion of  Tranz Tasman and other major races

Next year our biennial Tranz Tasman is to be run again. We need to widely promote this race to be the great race is should and could be. The newsletter and the enclosed leaflet further explains.

As well, there are a number of major shorthanded races on offer around the world. Hopefully, our members have these races in their sights and our sailing program should provide the path towards those goals. If we further support and promote these major events this will build awareness of the opportunities that are out there in shorthanding and thereby grow interest and participation in our events.

4. Affiliation with the YA/AYF

Firstly, some members may be unaware that the SSAA is not presently affiliated with the AYF and unaware of what this means, and the ramifications of being so. I was not when I first joined, but then again that was in a time when we lived in a less litigious world. Our world however has changed dramatically in the last ten years and we need to be more conscious of ‘covering our butts’.

Should we therefor seek affiliation with the AYF/YANSW as, for example, the SSANZ and the SSS in the USA are with their national bodies. Our sport would be better positioned if we were associated with the AYF because:

¨      Our ‘credibility’ and ‘acceptability’ would be enhanced within the wider sailing community. Are we viewed as a cavalier bunch which is detrimental to our cause?

¨      It allows other clubs that are affiliated to accept our members on their starting lines.

¨      A by-product of affiliation could mean our membership increases. As per rule 46 of the AYF RRS, from 1st July 2001, any crew member that sails in more than 3 races in any one sailing season shall be a member of an affiliated club.

¨      Our butts would be better covered and our races would become AYF endorsed. Immediate insurance coverage thereby becomes available. Peter Bush recently made the comment “The biggest benefit (of being AYF endorsed) I see is that YA/AYF insurance schemes will apply to competitors and competing yachts i.e. my AYF gold Card will pay my family $200,000 if I die on an AYF ‘endorsed’ event, not $0 if not”.  What does your spouse think about this?

5. Our Social Program

I am also vitally conscious that our social gatherings are a key and vital part of the fabric of the association. How else do our members interact? We don’t have a base where members and friends can ‘share a beer and tell tall tales’. If there is mutual interest with MHYC for example this could become our base. The SSAA would support those associated clubs and hold its social gatherings at those clubs on an occasional basis under the banner of the SSAA. We are presently a nomadic association. Having a base would give us a better footing in our market place.

6.  Web Site Improvements

I continually receive compliments on our site, however more work needs doing e.g site counter, race results posting more quickly, new page for our TranzTasman race etc etc.

Your input and comments are welcome!

So, what to do next year? Here is my proposal:

1.      We embrace the vision statement so we all know what we are about, and where we are heading.

2.      We focus on a niche in our market and only offer a seven race series ---the OS series, plus the Trans Tasman, about one race per month, March—October, draft program attached.

3.      We seek to build a working relationship with MHYC and RPAYC for example, and other clubs around Australia, with them offering short course shorthanded sailing programs

4.      We widely promote the Tranz Tasman and support other major shorthanded races.

5.      We seek affiliation with the AYF.

6.      We lift our social program back to where it was.

7.      We work on our web site to be the best it can be.

I certainly enjoy my shorthanded sailing and have enjoyed my term as president this year. I thank the committee for their support. A great deal has been achieved, especially the web site---it is up and running very successfully and is becoming the main means for communication. Having been in the chair for a year, I now really appreciate the time and energy put in by previous committees to get the association where it is today—to all of them out there, a belatedly big thank you!  My standard answer to anyone critical of our organisation and the committee is---join the committee and have the association operate as you would like. 

I ask all members to please remember that the committee is a volunteer group, trying to cater for your needs and wishes, within the charter of its original foundation. Please consider joining the committee next year, and lend a hand to have this association the great association it can be.

The association is owned by the members and is for the members, but it should follow the path it was originally conceived for. I think the above proposals follow this path, and is the right path for the association in today’s world.

Committee positions for 2002 are:

President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, General Committee comprising, Social Committee Sailing Committee, Race Committee, Safety Officer, Mini Delegate,

Please consider and submit nominations when the notice of the AGM is forwarded, and/or phone me for a chat  02 9953 4922 or 0409 045020.

Best regards

Rob Drury