Following the General Committee (GC) meeting last night, we thought it was very important to provide an update to all our Members on what was discussed and the current position of our Squadron.
Most of you no doubt are close enough to the news hitting us each day, however, we wish to share with you our current views upfront which are assisting with our decision making.
- Timing: We have all heard that this Pandemic will last for somewhere between 3 months (if we can flatten the height of the Bell-shaped curve through strict social distancing) to approximately 18 months (worst case of a scalable vaccine being implemented globally.) We all hope the issue of flattening the Bell-shaped curve plus the shortening of the length through fast work and great scientific minds occurs. In the meantime, your GC has explored and will continue to review all options, both the worst and best scenario. We are currently planning for a most likely scenario of approximately 6 months, with tightening Government restrictions in the meantime and ultimately these restrictions being lessened leading into our spring sailing season.
- The globe has seen pandemics before, some worse than others in scale, all having a devastating impact on the communities involved. But History says communities bounce back. We know this so well in our sailing community. To use a sailing analogy: Covid-19 is not just a black southerly buster coming through but could be like a tornado if we don’t all work individually and together to find solutions. So we must “batten down the hatches” and ride it out. We will survive this as a Club but we all must work both individually and together to ensure this.
- The Squadron is currently in a solid financial position. We have no debt and have built up cash reserves for the car park project of approximately $800,000. However, this cash position will not last even in the most likely scenario unless we dramatically curtail both operational and capital expenditure. In addition, with our now dramatically reduced operational revenues, we will have to turn to ensuring our Members' subscriptions due next month is consistent with our Club’s “Member for Life” philosophy. The GC has and will continue to prudentially manage your Club's finances.
- Our priority is how best to support our Members and staff through these difficult times. With the right planning and prioritising and all working together, we are confident that we can get through this situation and be ready to welcome you and your guests back to enjoy the Squadron as soon as allowed.
As you will all be aware, our circumstances are changing on a daily basis. Regrettably, the last week has been one of the most difficult in the Squadron’s long history. The following points are important to note;
In the current environment with announcements daily from different levels of Government, we have been forced into closing parts of the Club. As a result, we had to stand down 70 staff. This was obviously extremely tough on our staff / management, and Members who knew many of these great individuals. The decision had to be made to protect the future of our Club and to also allow the staff to access the recently announced government support. We stood them down with the hope that one day they will be able to rejoin us if they so choose. We also provided a modest ex gratia to help them all until Government support kicks in next month.
- Clubhouse, Waterfront and events:
The clubhouse is closed with the exception of the Cellar and the newly introduced frozen and ready to eat take away options. These are proving to be extremely popular, so please look at these online. We can arrange home delivery of these meals as well as anything from the cellar.
All Club events are now cancelled until 1st September.
Accounts and Administration will be generally working from home with minimal staff onsite.
All Sailing is cancelled including the “Academy” until further notice. This now includes the Combined Clubs Winter Series as well as the Winter Youth Programs.
The Waterfront operations are currently open, including the tender service, and we encourage our Members to make use of this facility now more than ever. We will be announcing a new service to Members shortly to check / service boats during this period. This may change in the future if further restrictions and definition of essential services are changed by the Government.
All Capital works have been deferred. Expenditure of the Car Park repairs project will be the first capital works project to be recommenced once we are in a financial position to do so.
We now need your support more than ever. We continue to look to our Members for support if possible, to renew their subscriptions. Our annual subscription renewals are due to be sent out mid next month. We appreciate that this is not the best timing, but are hopeful that our “Member for Life” philosophy will help us through this time. Please note the following;
The 2020/21 Membership rates will be frozen at the same level as 2019/20.
We remind our Members that they can pay on a monthly basis by direct deposit (this year without any administration charge.)
We plan to offer Members the opportunity to pay two years of subscriptions upfront at the 2020/2021 rate. This will not only significantly help our cash flow but will also be a discount for Members with no subscription increase in 2021/22 for those who pay in advance. We understand that not all Members will be able to take this up.
As a Club, we fully respect that everyone’s personal circumstances are different and we will continue to work through scenarios for dealing with the impact of this crisis on our Members. As part of the Squadron’s philosophy of “Membership for Life” the GC is examining options to support Members to continue with their membership until the Club is fully operational again. If any Members are experiencing difficulty, please contact the CEO or any of the Flag Officers, and the Finance Committee will consider any requests and make recommendations to the General Committee for sign off.
The GC are continuing to explore all the many ways that our Club can remain strong albeit under these exceptional circumstances. To this end, our Sub Committees will continue to meet on a regular basis. This is now happening electronically and has already started this week.
Over the next few months, we will be introducing some new online courses so that our Members continue to feel engaged and part of our wonderful community. We appreciate the great work all involved in RSYS communications and particularly Ms. Isabel Wartho. We are calling for help from any member with information technology “hands-on experience” in web mastering and social media platforms to support Isabel and the team. Please contact Will Pettigrew if anyone is interested.
Finally, as we mentioned above, these are challenging times which this current generation hasn’t seen before. We want to thank all our Members for their understanding and ongoing support. We must acknowledge and sincerely thank our Management team for being able to steer us through these recent headwinds. In particular, we would like to recognise the professional leadership of our CEO, William Pettigrew.
Please all stay healthy and reach out to other Members, and also to your GC Members if you need any assistance during this period.
The General Committee