Dear Members Festive greetings to you all. I don’t think many of us will be sad to see the back of 2020. As we endure yet another lockdown here in the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Cymru, March seems a distant memory when we were assured that the tide would be turned in just twelve weeks. However, the vaccines mean that we can at least now look forward to next year with real optimism and a genuine expectation that the summer months will see us on the path back to normal life. With hope on the horizon, and the days now getting longer, I am sure that you will be keen to know how the Club has fared over the last year and what you can look forward to at the Club in the coming season.
Financial position – where are we now?
The accounts will be available as soon as they are finalised but it will come as no surprise to learn that income was impacted significantly by last year’s enforced closure and restrictions on operations. Income fell by almost £200k mainly due to the loss of bar sales and event income. However, I am pleased to report that through rigorous control over the P & L we have largely maintained our cash balances and are confident that we have the reserves to weather what are likely to be a barren few months until the spring. We continue, as we must, with measures to protect cash reserves until we are able to resume operations and have, effectively, placed the Club into a state of hibernation. Other than the office opening for two half-days a week, all staff are now furloughed and will remain so for the time being.
The messaging – backed up by actions such as extending the furlough scheme until the end of April – is that we will be living with severe restrictions until spring but can look forward to an easing over the course of the summer. We will therefore aim to provide members with as normal a season as we are able to, both on and off the water. Our expectation is that whilst distancing and other measures will ease through the summer, they will continue beyond Easter, so the likelihood is that last season’s members-only policy will remain in place, and extend into the summer months.
On the waterside, whilst we operated no formal race-programme last season, most fleets spent time on the water and our experience was that the smaller waterside team coped well, albeit with periodic support during pinch-points from members. Our waterside team is now furloughed to preserve cash, and we have no idea when the Welsh government will allow larger gatherings and events. Our plans, therefore, are to ensure that we have sufficient waterside resource ready to operate a Club race programme for members this season, but to restrict commitments to non-member events and championships; commitments that will involve the expense of scaling-up in readiness to host events but which may well be wasted if we are unable to hold those events. Specifically:
We aim to operate a normal full race programme for the Club fleets, which we are confident of being able to manage with a limited waterside team and in compliance with existing restrictions. This will include Keelboat Week which will, again, probably be members-only.
You will have received a note that was sent out last week on Dinghy Week. We are planning to host a “Dinghy Week-Lite” week of beach-based racing but with no clubhouse social programme. A copy of the note is included with this email.
We will monitor the situation and make a decision on Mirror Week early next year.
We plan to host the Squib National Championships during the second week of September. The original plan had been to stage the Nationals in June but we think the chances of being able to offer the full waterside and social experience expected will be increased by deferring the proposed date to September. We are particularly keen to host the Squib Nationals because it’s highly likely that one of the SCYC fleet will win! Other than the Squibs, we will not be hosting any other championships in 2021.
On the shoreside, the refurbishment of the clubhouse interior, and completion of the exterior steelwork repainting project mean that members have exclusive use of the smartest premises in one of the finest locations in the UK. It is our intention to develop a programme of social attractions throughout the season, aiming to offer something to all membership categories. Plans included a season-opening hog-roast party and Members’ summer BBQ with complimentary Prosecco reception. These plans obviously fell victim to Covid in 2020 and restrictions next year will dictate what we are able to do, but Chris and Esther are primed to get to work as and when circumstances allow. We want to ensure that the Club is the automatic choice for all members when out in Abersoch – a real members club.
The funeral of our great friend Tim Little was held earlier this month. A photograph is attached of his friends from the RC Lasers giving Tim a moving and fitting salute on his final passage through the village.
Annual and Special General Meetings
As has been reported previously, emergency legislation has permitted the deferral of our AGM and given me a perfect excuse to dodge awkward questions. I have always seen the General Meetings as more than a box-ticking exercise and very much an opportunity for members to gather, discuss Club business and enjoy each other’s company whilst boosting bar profits. We had all anticipated being able to hold a meeting before now but, as time moves on with no prospect of being able to hold a large gathering in the near future, I think we may need to consider dealing with the various matters in an online meeting early next year. As someone who sat maths O- Level armed with a slide-rule and log tables, I’d be very happy to hear from any techies out there able to assist.
SCYC Facebook Members Group
Anna has asked me to encourage members to join the SCYC Members Group. It is a great way for members to maintain contact during this period of enforced closure and whilst many of us remain subject to travel restrictions.
Subscriptions for the year from October 2020 to September 2021 are due on 1 st January. I know it’s hardly ideal timing that the latest lockdown should coincide with subscription renewals but we will ensure that the Club provides as full a range of membership benefits this season as is possible. Can I thank the many members who have already paid and urge others to help the Club by paying promptly? The new direct debit scheme is proving extremely popular and Stacey will be happy to help members wishing to set up direct debit arrangements.
Finally, your Council and all the Club’s staff send our very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. We will all miss our usual celebrations over New Year in the company of friends at the Club, but the end is in sight and we look forward to welcoming you all back to the Club in the spring for the start of a cracking 2021 season.
I hope this email finds you in good health and spirits.
The first rays of light are now visible at the end of the tunnel. As of today’s date all travel restrictions in Wales are lifted allowing second-home owners to return to their houses, and caravan parks, self-contained rented accommodation and hotels and B&Bs are expected to open this weekend. Barring any unpleasant surprises from the First Minister later this week, bars and restaurants will be permitted to offer an al fresco service as from next Monday, 13th July, subject to distancing and other Covid-related requirements.
These relaxations mean that we are now taking the first steps towards a resumption of, albeit severely compromised, operations and I thought it would be helpful to pull together the strands of the various communications on the resumption of operations and protocols to summarise where we are up to.
This is unfamiliar territory for all of us. Contradictions and lack of clarity abound in the official rules but we are doing our best to devise procedures and protocols that meet the requirements whilst keeping inconvenience to a minimum for you. None-the-less there are bound to be teething problems and we ask for your patience and understanding as we get to grips with testing conditions.
Access to Club
The conditions under which we must operate mean that the capacity to accommodate people on the Club’s premises is reduced significantly. Clearly, members should have priority and members must not be prevented from using the Club due to the presence of non-members. For the time being, access to the Club’s premises and facilities will therefore be restricted strictly to members only. We seek your cooperation in not bringing guests to the Club.
The gates will be locked at all times so please ensure that you have your card to hand when you visit the Club.
As advised by Steve in his email last week, a restricted launch service resumed today. Full details of the procedure and protocol were detailed in his email.
Barring any unpleasant surprises, the bar will re-open offering an al fresco service next Monday, 13th July. Mike will provide full details later in the week, but the key features will be:
Table-service only Payment by membership card only – no cash. Drinks orders by phone app or calling bar phone. We had planned to develop our own world-beating app but have decided to use an existing and proven version that is already available. Details will follow.
Plans to offer a catering service are, as yet, inchoate. Whilst food service is restricted to al fresco dining, it is simply not viable commercially to open and staff the kitchen and restaurant for the limited amount of custom that is likely. However, Dave and Owen plan to fire up the barbeque as and when weather conditions are conducive, and hope that restrictions will be eased further allowing them to offer indoor evening dining in August.
The continuing ban on large gatherings rules out the hosting of any larger events and distancing rules pose serious challenges to any formal Club racing programme. A particular difficulty is the logistics of ferrying crews to and from moored boats in a timely and covid-compliant fashion. We remain hopeful, however, of being able to organise some form of racing activity in August.
I hope that the above helps to clarify the situation as it stands, and we all look forward to welcoming you back to the Club over the coming days and weeks.
With best wishes
COMMODORE’S UPDATE – MAY 2020
The most important message to convey in this Update is that I hope you are enjoying good health and continue to do so.
Little has changed in terms of existing operations since my March Update, and uncertainty still clouds so much of the future, not helped by the Welsh government’s divergence on policy from Westminster, but I think that we have a reasonably clear idea of a number of things relevant to our summer season.
Without wishing to risk drawing attention to what we’re all missing, we have not been idle and have been making the most of the enforced closure. A small, socially-distanced team under Mike’s management has been busy in the bar in a Herculean effort to shift the ten remaining barrels of beer! Remarkably, they’ve also been doing a tremendous job with paint and varnish brushes giving the bar a much-needed thorough make-over, and giving the whole place a lift. A new state of the art cellar system, SmartDispense, has been installed which guarantees the delivery of consistently high-quality beer and cider, whilst Malcolm has been installing new drainage in the cellar room to enable thorough regular cleaning. Mike will report more fully when it is finished and, whilst it seems likely that it will be August at the earliest before we are able to open, we’ll have a bar that does justice to the view and a far more pleasant place for members to spend time in. As and when we are able to return Simon, our new Bar Manager, will be ready to welcome you to the smartest venue in town with the best views in the UK. How he’ll pour your drink without touching the glass, throw the glass to you from two metres away without spilling anything, and how you’ll drink it through your mask if you manage to catch it are questions for another day!
Sailing and other water-based outdoor leisure activities are now permitted in England but not in Wales. A great deal of uncertainty remains but I think that there is a reasonable degree of certainty over what will not change and which impacts upon our sailing programme:
The existing lockdown in Wales remains in place and will be reviewed at the end of this month. There is no indication when non-essential travel to North Wales will be permitted
Regardless of any relaxation of restrictions on permitted social and business activities, and personal movement, we are in for the long-haul with social-distancing – almost certainly beyond the end of the season
The ban on large gatherings will also remain in place for the foreseeable future
Cafes and restaurants may be permitted to open in July in England, but no indication yet in Wales
Bars may be permitted to open in August in England but no indication yet in Wales
Even if travel restrictions are lifted in the next few months to enable holidaymakers to travel to North Wales, which is uncertain given the messaging (Mark Drakeford on the Today programme on 15th May said that any return of tourism would have to be “with the blessing of the local community”) there are, I think, a number of key factors which inform our decisions.
Practicalities of launches/safety boats/committee boats with social distancing and hygene protocol
It will not be possible to provide a viable operation whilst maintaining social-distancing and hygene protocol – two metre separation, cleaning of surfaces, members of the same household only etc. And, of course, many of the crews would be in the same position themselves.
A continued ban on larger gatherings effectively prevents us from hosting events. Registration, briefings and prize-givings would be impossible and, with the bar closed, the absence of a social programme would rob the event of its meaning. Notwithstanding the existing ban, implementing and ensuring a Covid-compliant environment whilst hosting a large event in our Clubhouse is all but impossible given the physical constraints and our resources.
We would need the full fleet of launches, safety boats and team of seasonal staff to host events. It is expensive, and the financial viability is entirely dependent upon the revenue generated by the social programme and bar sales. In the absence of this income we would have to fund the events out of our cash reserves which we must preserve. If we are able to provide any waterside operation this season, any cash spent should be to facilitate members’ sailing and not on events for non-members.
All of the above factors lead us to the following decisions:
Dinghy Week and Mirror Week
Regrettably, we have little option other than to cancel both of these events this year. It is a great shame, particularly given the amount of work that Selina and Jon have put into Dinghy Week and Pete into Mirror Week. It will also be a big disappointment to regular visitors, but we will do what we can to encourage them to book early for 2021.
Keelboat Week and Club Racing Programme
Entrants in the Club’s racing programme are obviously all members and Keelboat Week entrants are, in the main, also members. We will remain committed until it is absolutely not possible, to providing something for members this season. Any resources used to provide racing will be for the benefit of members. I’m sure that you all recognise that the chances are slim but, if we can, we will.
Whilst the likelihood of a comprehensive racing programme this season is slim, sailing is now permitted in England so, if Wales follows the lead, we may be able to get back on the water soon. Whether those of us on the wrong side of the border will be able to get there is another matter! Our challenge will be to operate a launch service in a Covid-compliant manner but we are on standby with launches and moorings ready and, if we are able to agree a protocol that will allow us to provide a restricted service, and there is a demand, we will do so.
This is a rather lengthy explanation of the position but the waterside operations are so fundamental to Club membership that I wanted to explain in full to you why we arrive at the position we do – and I’ve never been one to use one word where ten will do!
I referred above to the challenges that we are facing when considering how to operate in a Covid-compliant manner – challenges that I am sure many members will be grappling with in their own working environments. RYA has issued guidance recently which illustrates those challenges. Here is the link if you are interested in reading it which I think helps further in understanding the background to the decisions that we are taking. https://www.rya.org.uk/SiteCollectionDocuments/clubs/Club_Guidance_Covid19_v1%200%20(3).pdf?utm_campaign=%7b~messageName~%7d&utm_source=emailCampaign&utm_content=%7b~mailVariationId~%7d&utm_medium=email
Just by way of update Stacey continues to man the office and deal with the day-to-day administrative tasks that continue unabated. Simon, as reported above, is busy working on the bar, and our waterside team of Mike and Conan has been furloughed. It goes without saying that we will not be employing any seasonal staff this year.
I referred in my March Update to the number of subscriptions that remained unpaid, and urged those who had not paid to do so.
Can I first thank you for paying your subscription and supporting the Club through what will be a challenging period. The level of support is a great testament to members’ commitment to the Club and points towards a bright future once we emerge into some sort of normality.
Inevitably, and unfortunately, a number of members did not respond and their memberships have now lapsed. I think it is important to know that we made every effort to explain the position, emphasise the Club’s willingness to be flexible and to offer a helping hand to anyone in difficulties, so am attaching a copy of the letter that was sent at the end of April to those who had not paid. No response has been received from those members whose memberships have lapsed.
Annual General Meeting
As you will be aware the AGM, which had been scheduled for 12th April was postponed and we are now going through the rather bizarre process, dictated by our Articles, of postponing weekly in the absence of a quorum of twenty-five. As a private company we are not bound by law to hold an AGM but rather by the terms of our Articles. We could stage a virtual AGM with the required quorum of twenty-five as a box-ticking exercise but it seems to me that the principal purpose of our AGM is to provide an opportunity for members to gather together, hear what the Council has to say and ask any questions that they have concerning the Club.
We have already supplied the Accounts, which is the one thing required by law, so I think that common-sense says that we simply agree to postpone it indefinitely until such a time as we are again able to gather members together. This will place us in technical breach of our Articles but these are unprecedented times and, unless anyone objects, that is what I propose to do.
Alternatively, we carry on with the charade of weekly postponements until holding a virtual AGM before 21st July, being fifteen months since the AGM in April 2019.
I mentioned in my March Update the difficulties that we were having with the website and which explained the generally unsatisfactory state of the site. We have been working on it and are very close to releasing a new site which should resolve the problems with the existing one.
So, whilst we would obviously prefer not to be closed, we are, at least, making the most of the opportunity that it presents to tackle jobs that need doing around the Club.
Before signing off, can I emphasise what I have said above - that we will do whatever we can to provide some sort of service this season if we are able to. We’ll keep you updated as and when Government guidance provides further clarity.
With best wishes, and continuing hope that we will see you at the Club this season.