Commodore’s Letter April 2017
Dear ADSC friends,
In this letter, I’ve extended my remarks from the March 28 AGM.
Fifty years is a long time. Fifty years of sustaining a sailing club in an itinerant community like Abu Dhabi is an achievement. I’m glad we can all be part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, that we have the good fortune of benefiting in our own sailing from the hard work of so many people over those 50 years, and that on our watch we are keeping the ADSC strong so that it will provide the same enjoyment to future generations of Club members.
In a year of declining ex-pat populations and tightened budgets in Abu Dhabi, keeping the ADSC strong and vibrant is more of a challenge than in growth times. However, I am pleased to say that all of you have risen to the challenge and that our club has full sails heading into its second fifty years.
Last year at the AGM, I spoke about hours sailed and smiles elicited as the ultimate measure of our success. It is not just the number of members on our roster, though we are stable by that measure, but our participation and our enjoyment of sharing the sport that is most important. Our sailing club is providing sailing enjoyment for juniors and adults at all levels of experience. On a recent Friday, 35 people were on the water participating in races. Monthly Mug dinners, the decline of which was discussed at our 2016 AGM, are fully back. Thanks to Joan Grant's efforts, the dinners are drawing as many as thirty members at a variety of venues. Another measure is how much we are sharing with each other, and the numbers there look good too. In March, ADSC members posted 119 messages on Yahoo, which is the second most ever for a month! In fact, it may prove to be an historic high water mark because the messaging on the new What's App group is proving a far better way to communicate.
Being financial balanced is of course an essential. As Julie’s report indicates, we are debt-free with a solid financial plan that will allow continued maintenance and replacement of our sail and powerboat fleet. Despite the departure of many members, including stalwarts of the ADSC, we have continued to attract new members so that membership today is about where it was last year at this time. To further grow our membership, we have introduced family membership packages and are encouraging associate memberships, monthly memberships, and overseas memberships.
Not only are new members joining, but they are immediately becoming active participants and are stepping into the shoes of departing members. I’d like to particularly recognize Dave Cunningham who has seamlessly picked up for Alasdair as Bosun, Joe Hazel, who is replacing Meg as Secretary, and Karl See, who is taking on the daunting task of filling Joan Grant’s shoes as social coordinator. Other new Committee members include Julie Decaux, who has replaced Stephen as Treasurer, and Maire Mollen-Conway, who has replaced Marianne as our Communications Officer. I’d like to say a special thanks to Meg, who made sure our Committee was covering the right issues and that we were following up on our action items. Joe will be great as a new Secretary, but Meg will still be missed.
As principal and chief instructor of the Sailing Academy, Amer and Steve did a great job getting the ADSC re-certified by the RYA. Steve is creatively scheduling courses when they work best for kids and parents, such as intensive courses during holiday periods. At the same time, the demographic challenges facing the Club mean that family membership is down more than any other category. In that environment, and with more children committed to after-school activities at their schools, participation numbers are down. However, the Club management, Amer and members of our Committee have put together some thoughts on ways to keep the Academy viable as a vital component of what this club offers, and I am quite optimistic about the future.
We continue to enjoy a great spirit of volunteerism and participation. Ian Grant makes the racing program look as if it runs itself (though organizing it and scoring results is anything but easy); Antoine continues to organize social sails; and everyone pitches in on Committee Boat duty. In that regard, I’d like to give special thanks to Karissa for her willingness to drive the rib on most race days… and for her great photography.
Passing by the sailing area on a Friday morning or a Saturday afternoon, it is not unusual to see a member or two repairing or cleaning their syndicated boat. This requires all of us to do our part. if you break something, take responsibility to fix it or pay to have it fixed. You can ask Dave or Vimal for advice on do-it-yourself or professional repairs. Also, if you want to use a boat to which someone else is syndicated, please ask permission from that person first. Our fleet is in generally good condition, and seven types of boat are in active use - Optimists, Fevas (two new ones this week!), a Byte, Lasers, Kestrels, Laser 4000s, and RS 400s. This is an important achievement and lets all do our part to keep up the fleet.
This harbor in Abu Dhabi is a wonderful place to sail. We have an extensive program and great facilities. And above all else, we have members who make the entire sailing experience fun.
Here’s to the next 50 years!