I began my term of office as Commodore at the start of these most challenging of years, so I am taking the opportunity to use our excellent website to give you an update on the Club at the half-year point.
We are all too well aware of the issues surrounding the national economy and all the international goings-on on the financial front and we have not remained unaffected as a Yacht Club by these events. On the plus side, it would appear that recent developments are more positive so hopefully this will reflect upon us as a group of sailing members. As the art of navigation and yacht racing have got to be the final retreat of all optimists, let's share the optimism expressed nationally following last week's events.
Firstly, may I thank everyone who has helped me and supported me during my first six months as Commodore. Taking over the reins in any organisation is always daunting but when everyone knows you from first arrival as the freckle-faced little junior through to teenager and maturing (sic) to be HYC's First Officer, trepidation may be a more apt description of last December's AGM! I am immensely proud to fly the Commodore's Pennant of our Club, both in harbour and abroad.
Our sailing season has been turned upside-down somewhat and interrupted by the weather conditions from Spring through to this current month. Our summer seems to have got misplaced somewhere but optimism rules for the remaining months of the season that we might be blessed weather-wise.
To all competitors, volunteers and assistants who have stuck by the management and the re-scheduling and running of events following cancellations, postponements etc., thank you for your understanding and patience. On the subject of racing, I would ask all members to acknowledge the Race Officers and Assistants after each race - without them, we simply wouldn't have any racing!
Events have become our lifeblood and the essence of what we do, with an ever-increasing international reputation for excellence. The Fingal Co.Co Etchells World Championship last season and BMW J24 European Championships this September bear testament to this status.
One of the year's outstanding successes has been the resurgence of the numbers partaking in the junior sail training programme, a most heartening development to observe. Your General Committee, Sailing Committee and, in particular, Caroline Burke as Junior Sailing Convenor, have worked tirelessly in support of this programme, so well done to all.
The success of the junior sail training programme also requires a mention for our Sailing Development Manager, Graeme Grant, for his input in revitalising our junior sailing and we wish him continued success with his upcoming adult sail training and keelboat programme.
I take the opportunity to wish our RS Feva sailors good luck in Holland and also our Optimist sailors in the upcoming Image Skincare-sponsored Optimist National Championships which we are hosting in mid-August.
One of the most pleasant roles I have had to play this season is welcoming and meeting visitors to our Club. Our Marina is proving popular with overseas visitors and they have all remarked upon the courtesy and friendliness of all they meet, both Marina staff, Yacht Club staff and Members alike. Each of these visitors is effectively an ambassador for HYC on their departure so helpfulness and a good Howth welcome on our part is a real boost to our reputation abroad.
As I mentioned earlier, financial matters have become a serious concern and the Flag Officers, Finance and General Committee Members are carefully monitoring our budget projections for this year.
The changed economic environment has taken its toll on discretionary spending and our information is that many clubs are facing a challenging time on the financial front.
HYC has also suffered in the downturn with a continuing loss of membership being a particularly unfortunate consequence. Our main two sources of income are both showing a decrease on last year, with Subscriptions down 14% and the Marina down 15%. On the positive side, however, the focus on controlling and lowering costs with the co-operation of the staff has resulted in Overheads being reduced by 13% versus last year.
While the accounts are showing a loss of 37k to the end of May versus a profit of 30k in the previous year, it should be noted that we transferred 50k to our sinking funds to provide for future expenditure on our marina and clubhouse and facilities in the future.
The General Committee believes these contributions to be prudent, given the challenging times in which we find ourselves, and it is also exploring options to increase income, particularly from the marina, and to continue the focus on controlling and lowering costs. I would like to thank the Hon. Treasurer Richard Kissane, his Finance Committee, and General Manager Nic Parton and Office Staff for their continuing and diligent work in this respect.
To close, please remember it is your Club and please use it, both as individuals for sailing and recreation but also consider the Club for corporate, group and celebration events. Continuing and enhanced usage will help us more than anything else to maintain our budgets for the year and minimise any losses.
May I wish each Member continued good sailing for the remainder of the season.
With kind regards,