President's report 2017
Int 5o5 AGM. President’s Report.
By Michael Quirk
Welcome to Annapolis and the 2017 AGM. Firstly I want to take the opportunity to thank and recognise outgoing President Pip Pearson.
After 16 years as President, Pip is still today contributing his boundless enthusiasm, support and experience to the class. I’m very glad that despite stepping down as President he has accepted the role of class liaison and technical adviser at this championship and hopefully many to come. The class owes him a great deal.
This year I have had the privilege of attending many of the national and regional regattas around the world so I have been able to hear from many 5O5 sailors from nearly every country. This has been really insightful and given me a fairly rounded perspective of what we are all after.
To me the Class seems fairly healthy overall. A few areas are experiencing some decline but others are seeing healthy activity and interest. There is good attendance at regional, european and world championships. We have a reasonable mix of aging stalwarts and new young talent. There also seems to be a growing number of sailors travelling internationally to events other than world championships. There isn’t room for complacency but I don’t feel we need to rush any major changes. What we can improve is our overall professionalism and brand ownership. I am confident this in itself will yield dividends to the class in the form of new sailors and better experiences for existing members. There is almost unanimous agreement our web sites are not good, it is difficult to find good information, particularly about events and we lack common standards for sailing instructions, rules for running regattas etc. Our effective use of social media for communication, forums and marketing is improving (thanks to a number of member initiatives). A decent web site should help as the hub and resource bank.
So on the immediate agenda we are currently working on building the new global website. Ideally this will include national specific areas which each nation can update and use for their local needs. We will get the most important things working first but in the fullness of time I see the website functionality to include:
- General information and resources about the class including a You Tube channel with short video clips on the technical aspects of setting up and sailing a 5O5.
- Database of all members, boats, financial status, contact details, etc
- A payment gateway for a member to register, pay annual membership fees online, register their ownership of a boat, enter a regatta or even buy merchandise. When someone pays their annual subs the appropriate amount will automatically be sent to the fleet, national and world associations with easy reporting for treasurers to reconcile accounts.
- A calendar and listing of all events globally that can be sorted by the user to see local, national, regional or international events.
- Ability to easily communicate with the membership at all levels.
- Results and event reports.
- It might be useful to also populate the site with information not just for 5O5 people but for dinghy sailing in general. This would be designed to encourage visits from other classes and the wider sailing community.
- Communication, forums and publicity can be done though the social media channels and should be locally driven. The international Association can build the tools and systems to make it easier for local fleets but grass roots activity will always be key to participation levels.
We should consider the level of support and control the international association has over world and regional events. I know many of us feel the world body needs to have more control and oversight over major events but this also creates work and responsibility so we will need to ensure it remains sustainable.
It is likely that we would be well served by engaging paid partners for publicity, web maintenance, race management, etc. We may also need or want to underwrite or subsidise regional or world championships to maintain standards, provide boats to younger talent at world championships, provide funds for local fleets to attract new sailors, coaching, etc.
All these initiatives require funds so we need to consider and work on the various ways the association can raise funds including:
- Surplus from world and maybe European championships in years when numbers are high and we have strong sponsorship.
- Advertising on the web site (once it is up and attracting sufficient traffic)
- Merchandising (We need to own our brand).
- Payment Gateways (Merchant/Credit Card surcharge Fees)
Mike Holt has been working on a classification system which he will introduce at the AGM and plans to have up and running for the 2018 season.
In summary the class has reasonable momentum. We should be able to build on this with a more professional, younger image. We have a strong brand which we need to own, protect and extract value from to generate funds to better promote the class and support members with knowledge, ways to improve their experience and tools to attract people to the class.
This will be my focus over the next 12 months. Anyone who feels they have skills or the business contacts to assist in design or implementation please don’t hesitate to contact me.
In the longer term I encourage us to be thinking into the future. What will sailing be like in 5, 10 or 20 years time and how will the 5o5 continue to compete. I believe we should continue to propose, discuss and experiment with change and new ideas. We should continue to consider the weight of the boats, carbon masts, asymmetrical sails, shorter courses, splitting large fleets and any other idea that makes the boats more interesting and popular to sail.
See you all in 2018 somewhere on the 5O5 circuit.