AGM Minutes

Dan Watson - 08th September 2013

Lark Class AGM
Minutes of Meeting
Venue: Felixstowe Ferry Sailing Club
Date: 31st July 2013 | Time 1700-1830

1. Review of 2012 Seaeson
2. Current State of the Class
3. Accounts
4. Laminate Sails
5. Change format of Belle Isle
6. Membership Benefits
7. Joint Nationals
8. AOB

1. Review of 2012 Season
Dan Watson gave a brief review of the 2012 season, highlighting events and statistics for the season, including:
Nationals – Experimental 4-day format; Great turn out; 50 boats; New faces; Profitable; however being held early in the season had detrimental effect on turn out at remaining fixtures of 2012. It was concluded that the shortened format of the champs was a good thing to try, but will not be exercised again in the foreseeable future.
Accounts – Good budgeting and tidy account keeping has meant that the class is in good financial health. More in later section.
Dinghy Show – Another tremendous Dinghy Show at Alexandra Palace with a cracking stand and good interest from show goers. Lark Party reintroduced which was reasonably attended and a good foundation for future Lark Parties.
Attendance – Overall there was a drop in attendance at open meetings due to the early nationals, but also the general down turn experienced across the dinghy racing community.
Sponsorship – The Belle Isle series and every championship in 2012 had a headline sponsors, with the Belle Isle sponsor, GJW Direct, continuing and increasing their support of the class into 2013 & 2014 with a sponsorship arrangement for both National Champs and Belle Isle.

2. Current state of the class
Dan Watson gave an explanation of the current situation in the class especially with the committee. During late 2012 Dan moved to Hong Kong without finding a suitable replacement for the Chairman role. However during his time overseas it was becoming clearly apparent that Chairmanship of the class was not working effectively. In March 2013 James Ward stepped forward to take over as chairman with Dan moving to vice chairman position, both in an acting role until today’s meeting where they would be formally voted in.
Also during this time vacant committee roles were fulfilled. The new committee members were formally voted in with proposers and seconders as detailed below:

Karen Falcon as Membership Secretary Proposed by Ally Dart
Kim Mayhew as Publicity and Marketing Secretary Seconded by Nigel Scott
Charlie Roome as Website Editor
Tim Vick as Chief Measurer
Kevin Rose as Training Co-ordinator

James Ward as Chairman Proposed by Chris Fish
Dan Watson as Vice Chairman Seconded by Rachel Rhodes

3. Accounts
The 2012 Accounts were reviewed by James Ward to those present.
Nigel Hufton suggested that there is currently too much money in the class accounts and that the committee should work out where to spend its funds.
Alan Krailing questioned the value of producing Lark News magazine and where else this money could be effectively used.
James Ward explained the situation with extra money being mainly due to the lack of publications. Those present were asked if they missed the publication and the general response was that it was missed but overridingly agreed that the money would be better spent elsewhere and that regular Lark eNews were an acceptable replacement.
Tim Vick suggested contacting sailing clubs about promoting the Lark.
Ally Dart reminded those present that eNews actually gets emailed to all registered website users and Lark News magazine is sent to paid up members of the class.
James Ward highlighted the extra attention given to updating the lark facebook page and how that has complimented the website, with a much greater interest in the facebook page coming from the extra activity from the committee.
A suggestion that the forum area kept to members only and Lark facebook page as public, however the general feeling was that this could appear unwelcoming.
Chris Fish questioned the membership breakdown. The exact numbers were not at hand but there had been a positive gain in full members, but a reduction in associate and student members. However the good turn out at 2012 Nationals meant that greater memberships were obtained.

The accounts were voted with following proposers and seconders:
2012 Accounts Proposed by Garry Packer
Seconded by Ally Dart

4. Laminate Sails
James Ward read out his proposal for the introduction of Laminate sails into the class. For this meeting he wish for a honest and open discussion to be had with a view of gaining thoughts and opinions with a way forward to be decided.
The following discussion points were made…
Steve Hall said that sailmakers had not changed the design of Lark sails for years. The introduction of Laminates would force them to change/consider the design.
Garry Packer asked what is the value for money comparison between Dacron and Laminates, i.e. expense verses longevity. What is the performance benefit?
Nigel Hufton asked if there is a noticeable (perceived) difference? But also highlighted that we would not be able to find out unless we trialled them. He suggested that the sail should not be any faster, or at least perceived to be faster.
It was questioned whether Laminate sails would work with C-section masts?It was unclear is laminate sail technology could not handle flexible c-section.
James Ward told those present that trial sails have been offered from North Sails.
It was generally agreed that a trial should be run before any acceptance of the sails, but there use would not be compulsory, and boat owners would have a chose of sail cloth to puchase
Chris Ellis considered that with the technology constantly changing , would there be a better time for their introduction. However it was generally thought that there is a constant change and to predict their development would be difficult to make, so now is no worse time.
With the class’s image being the main driver in the Laminate sails proposal, it was questioned whether other image changes/improvement could we do instead of Laminate sails? A response that Laminate sails are just part of bigger culture change in the class.
It was highlighted that younger member would buy a cheap boats, so laminate sails could give a negative impact as they’re perceived faster and therefore can’t compete with the addiotnal cost/performance.
Ally Dart questioned the number of people using new sails at this year’s champs, with about 7 boats saying that they were.
Tim Vick had asked sailmakers about laminate sails in which they responded that depowering laminates was harder to do, which is something that the Lark does relatively early on the wind scale. Tim also suggested a trial runoff using laminates, both in terms of image and performance benefit. He was not so fused about making it faster as handicap races at clubs/events would be an advantage to Lark sailors.
Alan Krailing suggested that there is a inevitability about using laminate sails, saying that in 10 years time their introduction if not done so between now and then, would be again have to be consdiered. However he also highlighted the need for the class to also look at other benefits to the class. What are the other things/niche/marketable items.
James Ward said it was time to be brave, go for it, instead of worrying about unpredictable consequences.
Olly Wells suggested just get on with it like other classes. The sailmakers are keen. Get some sails …

It is proposed that dispensation is offered for the production of a number of sets of Laminate mainsails (the exact number to be agreed by the Chief Measurer) for use for assessment during a trial period between the end of the National Championships and the end of the 2013 Winter Championships. A vote will take place after the trial period to decide whether a full introduction of Laminates sails into the class rules takes place. The dispensation for the use of the sails produced for the trail period will remain in place for the life of those sails should the vote produce a result not to introduce laminate sails into the class rules.

5. Belle Isle Reduction
James Ward noted that he had studied the results on the survey for the possible reshaping of the Belle Isle Traveller Series. In conclusion no firm answers were obtained and that there was a general feeling that the fixture list did not need improving at this time. However it was noted that the most interesting part of the survey responses were made in the comments section and the committee would be following up a few leads and maybe activate another survey in the future.
Nigel Hufton highlighted the need to focus on the venues chosen, as good venues should always get good turn outs.
Stuart Hydon noted that double-header weekends, like south staffs and shustoke, were attractive as two sets of results could be gained from a single weekend.
Ally Dart highlighted that with the low turn outs came a reduced ‘buzz’ at events which in turn could have a subsequent negative effect and therefore thought that less events, but at bigger venues could be the answer.
It was generally agreed that a better job could be done with highlighting the activities in-and-around an open meeting, not just the sailing, as that is part of the attractiveness of going to events.
Nigel Hufton noted that promotion of events should be done in a more timely manner with greater lead time leading up to events.

6. Membership Benefits
The committee is currently considering an overhaul of the benefits given as part of being a member of the Lark Class. This work is still ongoing and the committee promise to keep the class updated of their ideas they are considering in due course.
Items include where to reallocate the Lark News’s production money, possible website user benefits, discounts at recognized retail outlets, training activities etc.

7. Joint Nationals
James Ward asked those present to consider sharing a future National Championships with another class. This was generally not a liked idea and if ever considered it should be seen as a one-off and with the right class. It was also noted that sharing an event would be perceived as a reduction in its value for money.
It was highlighted to those present that the following venues had been provisionally agreed as National Championship venues:
2014 – Penzance (confirmed)
2015 – TBD
2016 – Lyme Regis
2017 - Looe

8. AOB