We were at a new venue for the AGM this year - the Waterman’s Arms pub in Eton. A total of 49 Club members and guests attended, and a further 60 sent apologies for absence. Of the 60, 22 appointed proxies to vote on their behalf.
The minutes of the AGM are now available in the members’ area of the PYC website here. The presentation slides used at the AGM are also posted there.
A summary of the main topics from the AGM follows. Please look at the minutes and presentation materials on the website if you would like more detail.
Dave Brookes, Debbie Roberts and Trevor Nicholls presented the most exciting news of the evening - an update on the sale of Spellbinder and the prospective purchase of her replacement. Spellbinder was sold in January for £32,500. A sales agreement has been signed (subject to survey and sea trial) to buy a 2009 X-40 yacht called RelaX, currently based in Denmark. A poster presentation was set up at the AGM for people to see details of the boat, and a copy of this is available on the PYC website.
Relax has a 2.1 metre draft, significantly deeper than Spellbinder’s or Quartette’s. This will require a change of berth to accommodate her when she arrives in Haslar. RelaX’s draft means skippers will have to plan carefully for entering ports with draught restrictions. This, and a few other features, will make her significantly different to sail compared to Spellbinder. Familiarisation sessions will be arranged for all skippers, which they must complete before taking her out.
The boat replacement team explained that PYC’s ambition is to establish a rolling programme of boat replacement, with each boat replaced after about 10 years’ ownership. If we can maintain 2017’s level of financial performance in future, this looks achievable.
Financial performance in 2017 had been good, with net cash generation of £35,760 and a surplus after depreciation of £14,600. Increased boat usage and fewer cancellations were major drivers.
The financial model that Club management works to is that membership fees should cover the fixed costs of the Club (moorings, insurance etc), while the Sailing fee income should cover variable costs. Following this model, Membership Fees for 2018 will rise, but sailing fees will be held at 2017 levels.
Report from the Rear Commodore - Sailing.
Trevor Nicholls’ report covered the highlights of the sailing year: successful programmes covering cruising, racing and training; increased boat usage, leading to improved income; establishing a legally robust position with regard to introductory membership; and of course the successful sale of Spellbinder.
Possible changes to election procedures.
This year there was no need for a ballot for elections to the Management Committee at the AGM, as none of the posts were contested. in several previous years however voting has been necessary. Some Club members have suggested that web-based voting would be better than the paper-based secret ballot used for elections to date. In a lively debate, supporters of a change from the status quo argued that web-based voting would encourage more members to become involved in the process. Those who favoured the status quo argued that web-based voting does not expose voters to debate and discussion in the way that attending the AGM does. As a consequence, voting could become a more casual action, undertaken without thorough consideration of the issues. Some pointed out that about 40% of PYC Members do not open Club emails, so are unlikely to participate in web-based voting anyway. A show-of-hands vote (including proxies) proved very close, with 29 voting to keep the status quo, and 28 voting for change. This was too close to give management a clear direction one way or the other, but does show there is significant interest in change. The Management Committee will therefore bring a more detailed proposal to the 2019 AGM. In this they will be guided by the strong preference expressed in a follow-up vote at the AGM that if the election procedure is to change, we should adopt a hybrid of web-based voting and voting in-person at the AGM, rather than adopt a web-only system.
Management Committee and other appointments.
Lenie Stephens-Voorhorst stepped down as Commodore, having served three years in the role. She was succeeded by Bob Cousins as Commodore. All other members of the Management Committee had agreed to re-stand, and were elected unopposed. Club member Michael Vincent was appointed as auditor for the coming year.
In her closing remarks, Lenie noted that the Club’s future is looking bright. She was particularly pleased to see the effort many members put in voluntarily in various capacities to support the Club. In this context, she was delighted that the Management Committee had awarded Honorary Life Memberships for exceptional service to Sheila Thomas and Hazel Wilcox (as reported in an earlier news roundup).
This concluded the formal business of the AGM. Club trophies were then awarded by Bob Cousins (again as reported earlier). This was followed by presentations by Judith Hankey, Chris Maughan, and Richard Ash. These covered the 2018 Summer Cruise, Skipper and Training matters, the 2018 racing programme, and bosunry. Again, all these presentations are available on the website.
Following the meeting, a well-received buffet meal was served, giving everyone the chance to relax and chat over food and drink.