Time was when Annual General Meetings were well-attended events with opportunities for the highlighting of grievances among the membership, and even – in the distant past – the possibility of a vigorous and sometimes heated debate writes W M Nixon.
But with today’s 24/7 communications across the sailing media, and the rapid compartmentalisation of problems as they have arisen through the year into quickly-established and recognised solution structures with accepted methods of procedure, contemporary AGMs have become smoothly-choreographed and businesslike meetings which review a wide range of topics in a short space of time, thanks to a specialised attendance which is already well-briefed on the matters in hand.
But despite the impersonal nature of the raft of skillfully-collated data which the attendance will have readily to hand, national sporting bodies are ultimately all about people. And last Saturday’s Annual General Meeting of Irish Sailing in the hospitable National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire had its positive tone set by the friendly personality, style and enthusiasm of President Jack Roy, now energetically into his second year of the three year term as President.
That said, it was a modestly-attended event, even if many of the key people in the Irish sailing scene were there. But my own feeling was that our President has thrown himself into his voluntary task with such effective interest and enjoyment that many of his members feel sure that, if they haven’t done so already, they are pretty certain to meet him soon at some of the many events he attends in one or other of his many capacities, for he is also a noted Race Officer, while he relishes the individuality of Ireland’s widely-varied sailing clubs, and is keen to visit as many of them as possible in both a personal and Presidential role.
Jack Roy was also very much in evidence on stage in the RDS just over four weeks ago for the annual Volvo/Irish Sailing/Afloat.ie Sailing Awards. That event was attended by more than 440 people, so numerically it not only completely eclipses any other sailing gathering by a wide margin, but it is sailing’s main social gathering, whereas the AGM is strictly business.
The too, since the Awards, we’ve not only had the well-attended Irish Sailing/CAI Annual Cruising Conference, but the new “Sailor of the Year” Conor Fogerty has won his first major of 2018 within a fortnight of receiving his accolade. And on the weekend of the AGM, sailing was taking place with the Inter-Varsities in Kilrush, the popular PY1000 race at Royal Cork, and several other smaller events scheduled at other centres.
In other words, 2018’s sailing itself is now taking centre stage. But those who were at the AGM came from several parts of the country while reflecting all interests, and with a high turnout of top officers it was a chance for some post-AGM networking on topics of mutual interest. As for the meeting itself, the core was the Presidential Report and the Financial Statement, (downloadable below) while the extra contribution was by Neil Murphy, who headed the vital Strategic Review of three years ago. Having seen many of his proposals implemented, he was pleased to report that the number of people using the various introductory courses to sailing was increasing, and that now that they had a handle on the figures, the time and resources-consuming business of making an annual survey of the clubs would become a biennial project.
The AGM tried to give an overall picture of an organisation of great diversity. Whether we like it or not, the success of the High Performance Divisions is key to fund-raising from Sports Ireland, while recognized international racing success is also central to the continung development of the fund-raising activities of the Irish Sailing Foundation. Yet this level of sailing is far indeed from the activities of your ordinary club racer, and much of its work is organised by highly specialised semi-autonomous sub-groups.
Trying to include them all in a comprehensible overall picture which reflects Irish Sailing in all its diversity is a challenge. But the abiding impression of Saturday’s AGM was that our President has put his enthusiasm and energy into the task of serving all Irish sailing with his customary dedication and enjoyment. Irish Sailing is in good hands.