Just a few thoughts about the accumulated cash in the MROA coffers - is it time that members had a think about what could be done with it? It is, of course, good to have a substantial balance for any emergency. When I was Chairman I think we had about £3k in the bank.
There was a raffle for a new boat No 2500 I think - I am not suggesting this is done again. There must be some good work that can be done with some of the funds.
I would pitch in with a dinner (maybe inviting ex chairman to attend) for all current Committee members maybe at Salcombe - they work very hard and I don't believe many, if any, even claim expenses.
What are your thoughts?
My thoughts are that we first need to be clear if the balances are truly 'spare' and not a sensible 'war chest'? Secondly, I feel that if this is going to be spent it should either offer a potential benefit to all members (such as free training event)or be set aside for 'worthy causes' (such as sponsoring up and coming youngsters to get to international events etc to raise the profile of the class).
Perhaps this is an item for the next AGM, as I assume we can attend and make proposals on what to do with the cash ?
If we want to reward the committee for all their hard work, and that sounds nice, then we should perhaps do this through a collection with our own cash.. I'll chuck in a donation to buy one of them a dinner if someone wants to manage the collection and pay the bill!
Think this subject is well worth discussion
In respect of committee members Im always humbled as to the effort put in by them , I think all clubs in any sport have problems these days recruiting people for roles and I always feel that as many pats on the shoulder and thanks go a long way to making people feel valued.
As treasurer, well the treasurers dog actually I always try to make sure we support all the activities we do to a high standard and not skimp
Regarding the surplus we have I know for instance at Wembley sailing club we set a figure that we like to hold as a reserve as clubs have fixed commitments that have to be met come what may,. The Mroa certainly does have a large surplus that in all honesty can never imagine what we would need it for , so much so that I have put 26 k into a bond for 3 years still 18 months to go , this stil leaves a surplus to cover any unexpected events
We would welcome all suggestions in this area and we can discuss at the upcoming meeting
It is certainly something that the Committee should be discussing. I am not sure it would be a subject that would persuade me out of the bar and into the AGM! A few thoughts:
1. The Committee might not want to have dinner together after all those hours of meetings together....
2. If there are people discouraged from being on the Committee because they do not feel they can ask for expenses then this would be a good time to dispell the notion ... but preferably without the result that the wealthier committee members all start to claim! I have no idea if this is an issue.
3. Initiatives to boost activity levels seem like a good use of the money - but only activity levels within Merlins - i do not see it as the role of the MROA to sponsor people to sail other boats. Cheap entries for Youths - or helping younger people from outside/on the periphery of the class to charter/insure a borrowed boat?
4. A membership drive - to re-engage with owners not in the class assoc. The MROA is currently blessed with a big membership but would more join if they got 2 years for the price of one - or it was half price for a trial year?
This one should extend the next Committee meeting well into the evening...
I'd like to see the older boats getting some financial support.
May be some cash going to Merlin clubs to maintain a club boat to a standard that attracts other double hander classes into our boats.
Andy Hay - Business as Usual
I've suggested it before, but could the MROA subsidise a creche at Silver Tiller events so that parents could sail .... would probably be self financing over the season anyway ....
The Contenders ran an initiative recently to provide a boat for a season to a youngster looking to join the fleet. Seemed like a good idea to me. More info at the link below.
As a former treasurer’s assistant possibly I can add a few thoughts.
Firstly, the reason we are in this fortunate position is because over the years lots of people have worked really, really hard on the Association’s behalf. They have brought in new members, run training events, produced great magazines and shown the class at its best at the Dinghy exhibition to name just a few examples. But all that has been done with great care to make sure the members’ subscriptions were well spent.
Secondly, the Association has had the view that it should maintain a reserve - a buffer against the unexpected - of something like two year’s income. Today that would be about £30,000. In the current environment, that seems an even more sensible policy than it did.
Thirdly, rather than starting with the money, I think this discussion should start with the class. Where are we, where do we want to get to and what do we need to do to get there. If some of those actions need some money to make them happen – then that is great because the Association is in the fortunate position of being able to invest to help grow the class. But this discussion needs to start with the class and where we want to go – not with the money and what we can do with it.
Finally, and this comes back to why the Association is in this strong position, I think it helps if we look at every investment or marketing decision in terms of “how many subs does that amount to”. Is the magazine and year book worth 300 subs – absolutely. Is the Dinghy Show worth 60 subs – yes. By looking at it like that, I am sure we will continue to make every sub count in helping the class grow.
On this theme we are having a bigger stand at the dinghy show next year to take three boats. This the committee feels reflects not only the strength of the class but also that new designers and builders are active in class.
The cost to the association will increase our spend by a third sorry for no exact figures as this being done from hospital bed.
Will, I concur with your views. Your key question: "where do we want to get to and what do we need to do to get there?" Well, that will get different answers from different 'wings' of the membership. We have such a rich history, and such a great future ahead of us (if managed appropriately). One small suggestion I have is to encourage Dougal Henshall in his magnum opus - the new "Merlin Rocket Book" (or whatever he will finally title it). This 'coffee table' publication will be a showcase for the class, past, present and future.
A quick FYI re 'Pure Magic' (which is the working title of the new MR book). I've sent Pat an update that I hope he will have space for in the next magazine, but in the meantime here is the 'latest'. After a very sudden break in activity when I suffered an accident afloat the week before Salcombe, at long last I'm getting back onto my feet and work has started. Last week saw Tony Ruffel (City of Plymouth winner, 1962) who was in the company of Alan Warren and Barry Dunning! Today it will be the turn of Alan Chaplin to sit in the spotlight 'telling all', after Christmas I'll be touring around the country taking in everywhere from Abersoch to Plymouth via such delightful spots as Bolton and Blithfield!
Currently, with the book some 60% + complete the text stands at 67,000 words/166 pages of A4, so a 300+ page book is on the cards (though it is misleading to try to equate A4 pages with book pages...but there will be a lot of it!). To this will be added some of the amazing pictures that have been donated already. It is the intention, as Keith said, to make this very much a coffee table book in landscape format, so that there can be plenty of space to include hull lines of 'significant' boats in a size that allows real visual comprehension of what the designer was trying to do.
At this point I'm not even thinking about the financial issues of publication, Writers Workshops are full of wannabe authors who looked at publication before they'd completed the real task of writing. What is clear however is the dialogue that will need to take place on the commercial aspect of the final production. The original book was supported by a number of Class members who kept their contributions very much in the background. Today, the dinghy world is very different and certainly one solution would be to invite suppliers to the class to 'sponsor a chapter'. As things stand, my efforts are far better placed today in getting on with the research and writing rather than worrying about what will happen to the ms once it is complete.
What I can confirm though is that we're currently well on track for a 'book launch' at the Dinner this time next year -- that way the book can be on the Christmas Present list and available at the 2015 Dinghy Show. As I write the book, I'm also preparing an illustrated talk that I'm happy to take around clubs anywhere in the UK - so if your club does 'winter talks' and you want the 'Story of the book and the boat' then let me know!
Okay, back to the keyboard!
I think that it would be good idea for the association to offer to pay Davids expenses for travelling to clubs when he gives his talk. He gave a talk at Dinghy Show about 2 years ago about History of Merlins, and to my surprise I thought that this was very good. These talks would clearly generate more interest in our class and could help get some new people on board.
Anything to help things along up Norf would be appreciated... I'm hoping to get Richard W to come and do a training event, and he has agreed to it in principle, but I think financial support would need to be found to make it viable. I'm planning on setting up a boat to use as a demo boat(was going to be 'Steppenwolf' but the most recent news about that boat is not good, beyond reasonable repair), this would be used to loan to yoofs and the like to try to entice them into getting involved.
How about buying a CNC kit of one of Keith's boats and giving it to a boatbuilding course to build? Would help encourage the next generation of Merlin Rocket builders! Or having a competition for a new Merlin design, the winner of which gets their boat CNC kitted and built by one of said boatbuilding schools? About time something started beating the Tales consistently!
Thank you to Mervyn for what I think is a compliment - I hope so and I was glad for the chance (as part of the Holt Centenary) to tell the story of the early days of the Merlin and Merlin Rocket Class. Whilst it is a lovely thought that doing presentations at existing strong MR clubs might 'inspire' some new sailors to make the move over, there is a far bigger and more tangible benefit that is already being seen. That is not with the future, but in the way the work that has gone into the book so far has reconnected the 'past'. I'm getting lots of contact from people who used to be highly active members of the Class Association, both ashore and afloat and it is really encouraging that so many people are so keen to help out with ensuring that the stories are both the ones that should be in there and equally are 'correct''.
Just a reminder that if you want to follow progress on the book that there is a Facebook page, simple search for 'merlinrocketbook' and you'll be there.
Richard 1074 and 3443
If I may put in my 3 pennyworth, although I don't claim to have helped in the build up of MROA's finances. I have always advised groups to carry a year's worth of expenses as the capital held in reserve. I am not sure what figure is held or how much is the annual expenditure so this view is totally unbiased. If the capital is purely earning interest, it is not really helping the class/organization, just keeping the annual dues down, which will in the end just hold off the evil moment.
There seems to be a wide difference in cost of the basic equipment [boats] which are either entry level, able to sail, or actually competitive. Are we trying to persuade dinghy sailors already sailing to come into the fold or encourage non sailors to sail in a proper boat?
I will collate these suggestions and discuss at upcoming meeting
Membership has gone over the 500 mark again which is always my personal check on how we ae doing, we ave had a big churn this year losing 75 members and so far getting in 65 new ones,
This is a mixture of members hanging up their boots but my sense is that getting crews s quite an issue and also embers who gentler the class with a less than competitive boat and get a bit frustrated
Still the bottom line is we are doing well but am sure we can still build on this
The class is in good shape in my opinion, due to maintaining the all round abilities of the boat,(Silver Tiler Rules) and continually resisting wholesale changes - trapezes, smooth skin hulls, asymetrics, Reducing weight limits etc.
The small changes year on year are debated at length and are made for good reasons.
There is not much that can be done to improve the boats, and we hardly have problems attracting top crews.
As a radical idea how about a "simple" starter boat which could be sponsored by the class - at a knock down price to encourage youngsters. It would take a lot of work to get right, and would probably have to have a more generous handicap. We have old boats on different handicaps - Could we build a boat for say £5k all up? No adjustable rigs, single poles, simple foils. Trouble is some youngsters might get one and fly anyway!
I know its not really a starter, but we should do something new. Where are the radical thinkers?
The Gurn suggests a basic boat for about £5k perhaps with a different handicap - so that would be one with no rig or fittings then! I have a basic boat with a different handicap it is 30 years old and cost a lot less than £5k
I think we have to accept that, by it's very nature the Merlin is quite an expensive boat. Each one is almost a one off. Unless you liking making stuff restricted and development classes like the Merlin, 12 and 14 are a bit of a mystery to many of today's sailors, who for the most part have few practical skills and no storage space for maintenance. There are lots of cheaper older boats about to get in to the class with, but the maintenance of them is for the cash rich or the time rich,or both. A quick look at the figures for new boats for various classes in the current issue of Y & Y shows the class to be holding up well. With the exception of the Solo at over 100 new boats, (but is that a worldwide figure?) it is in some pretty esteemed company growth wise, so is cost really an issue?
Is the problem more now that we have are perceived to have a two speed fleet? The glass Winder's and the rest. An unavoidable consequence of development. Isn't that what we all love about Merlins? This divide is much more evident in many one design classes where, with a boat more than a few seasons old you are stuck with the current yardstick and no vintage events to play at.
Creche was a good idea, plus training, heaven knows I need some. Returning to the original sentiment of this posting,a risk assessment of the finances would be a good starting point for this debate. Where can it go wrong, what might we need money for. I am sure the committee have all the answers to that but only when that has been done can any decisions be made about what to do with any surplus.
Now here's a radical idea - how about a five boat stand at the Ally Pally with a really old boat and something somewhere in between, late Smokers or NSM and still club racing, to show the strength in depth of the class.
Fully agree with the idea of showing three ages of Merlin Rockets on the stand. I'd have Gently (16) for the oldest one and then something 20-30 years old to show that sailing middle-aged boats can be just as much fun as a new one and encourage people into the class at the cheaper end.
Then we need more training days, perhaps also a training day plus one day open weekend aimed squarely at those middle-aged boats to improve their sailing and learn how to get the best out of them. Once people are happy in the class they will gradually upgrade and the cycle repeats.
I remember back in my younger working days a marketing person telling me that 50% of money spent on marketing and promotion was a waste of time she just didn't know which 50% it was
Truly it's often difficult to link money spent with actual tangible gains and often we just have to go with our gut feeling , and take a punt
It's good though if Ideas could have some meat to them in terms of costs , potential uptake , numbers , I know this is tough
As I said wil summarise these points at our next meeting so we don't lose the thread of them
Compared to my other class, the MR sub is good value, I think this helps keep the membership numbers up. £25 is below the pain threshold for more people, and you get a better magazine and website for it. These are the things that people on the margins of the class see. The people who could choose not to be members if they felt so inclined.
I would like to see all classes investing more in training at the 'back tenth of the nationals' kind of level. That would be an investment, not just spending.
It may look like a lot of money, but it would not go far in paid staff to replace the committee.
So, keep the subs down and keep up the good work!
Perhaps we should use a small amount of this cash to create a digital archive of all the yearbooks and the magazines?
This could be made available on the web to members.
It is nice to handle these things as paper but for long term storage, it would be better to digitise them so that they could be made available to a much wider range of people.
Perhaps we could also re-open the debate about a boat database like the N12's have... might reduce the info that needs to go in the Year Book and consequent print costs?
digital archive is a great idea -
An online database would be good for recording the design and build details of a boat but we would still need the Yearbook for the owner information. When buying a boat, the Yearbook is great for checking up on who owned her previously. Could be done on a database which retains history of ownership but mor complex.
The OK class has an excellent on line data base of boats.
Yes, but it is based on what people enter and not on factual historic data. It is also very out of date!
As a previous N12 owner I would strongly support the inclusion of a "Boat Database" on the M/R site. The data base on the N12 site holds a mine of information on the life of individual boats as well as photos. Insertion of data is a simple matter of logging in and posting. I feel much historical data has been lost on individual Merlins which would have been recorded for posterity had a data base been available.
I agree with Mike and as a previous N12 sailor I think the 12's database works well, while the Merlin database as it is provides very useful information on the builder and design etc., often the interesting stuff is the history the owners record - who owned it, why the boat has certain features, how well it went (or not!), events and results, etc. These will be lost if the owners don't record them.
The problem is always - can the owners be bothered to record them?
The N12 database was delivered by volunteers over a Xmas weekend, using forum style software. Would be easy to replicate without using up the spare cash. I guess that the N12 class could do it for you in return for the spare cash however!
Would you like to be put in touch? Ask Tom Stewart!
Peter Scott Chairman 1994 - 1996
Some very good observations in this thread which will assist the Committee in their deliberations.
We are very fortunate that successive Committee's, unlike successive Governments, have realised the importance of spending other peoples money wisely.
I do though, find myself being drawn back to the Gurns suggestion of an all expenses paid 'knees up 'for past Association Chairmen!!
Andy Hay - Business as Usual
In a discussion I had with the RYA, they were touting their services as "database managers" ... perhaps this could be an opportunity where our National Class fees might be usefully deployed?
If the class's experience with the difficulties in getting the RYA copy of the class rules updated is anything to go by, they are the last people to engage in this role. They would also likely to expensive as well as incompetent.
Ex Chairman Gurn
at last suport for a sensible suggestion from Ex Chairman Scott
A great idea Pete and Gurn before it's too late for some of us!