GSC Blog

Commodore’s Report to the Annual General Meeting 2022

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12 months ago the Challenge for the committee was “to make Gresford SC Thrive again in 2021 and beyond” particularly after all the trauma of 2020.

Covid has been ever present and the necessary restrictions impacted on many of our activities last year, however, so far as we are aware, we have avoided any infections arising from The Club and its activities. Thank you to Pete as our Covid Officer for all your work and guidance keeping us safe.

  • We started the year in lockdown, reviewing the Club’s Development Plan
  • Early projects as lockdown restrictions allowed included
    • Completing the boat shelter, Nick, Simon and Tim.
    • Cleaning out and painting the toilet block. Thank you, Gordon, for getting this long overdue project underway.
    • The second phase of the Toilet block refurbishment, replacing the windows and rendering the block work was completed in the spring. Thank you, Bill, for organising that.
    • Bill and Pete also led the clearing and redecorating of the Club Room with new storage units, a cooker and fridge.

Model Boats, the backbone of the club through the lean years, has continued to grow and draw in new members. The racing events are as keenly fought as ever. We also opened our doors to Ellesmere Port Model Boat Club who are currently struggling to find a suitable venue. Some Ellesmere members are now looking to join us at Gresford.

Our first major recruitment drive came with our Reg Gibbs Discover Boating week in May. With help from Paula at Mindful SUP we introduced Stand Up Paddle Boarding to the club and trained over 120 people how to use a board safely and recruiting new members along the way.  I am sorry Pete that we did not have the systems you needed to deal with the amazing popularity of this event. You achieved marvels.

Friday Juniors took off on the back of the Reg Gibbs week, and has regularly attracted more than 30 Juniors throughout the season, the highest sustained numbers for many years. Initially this put a huge strain on our Volunteer Dinghy Instructors and training organisation; however, three new Dinghy Instructors have now qualified, David, Lucia and Zoe. We have also inducted a new corps of Assistant Instructors and taken them through RYA First Aid Training and Power Boat 2 Training. We will be looking to support their continuing development as Dinghy Instructors over the next few years. We also need to recruit more willing Volunteers and Assistant Instructors to follow on over the coming years.

Covid Restrictions made it difficult to run the usual RYA Adult Training Courses in 2021, though we did run one small course.   

In September we tried something different. On Saturday Mornings we started informally introducing parents of Juniors to sailing, following the RYA Method and including training for Children. As a result, many who would not otherwise have had the chance, learned to sail. Many of this Saturday Group then went on to compete in the Frostbite Series.  A big thank you to Zoe, for your infectious enthusiasm drawing this group together and helping to train them.

Dinghy Racing had a slow but sustained start largely through the Wednesday Evening racing. We postponed the Arthur Jones Classic from May initially due to Covid Restrictions, then built it into our Regatta Weekend in September. The Classic was keenly fought with new racers giving the old hands great competition. At least one old hand tried too hard and should have known better.   Moving swiftly on…  As I have mentioned the Frostbite series was a great success with new sailors joining old hands and enjoying the thrills (and spills) of racing on the Flash.

Chaos before the start of Bart’s Bash Rac

2021 also saw the return of Schools and Youth Groups to Gresford SC. Two Scout groups came for Taster sessions on Thursday evenings in September. We have also been approached by other Scout and Guide groups for sessions in 2022.

The big step was with the help of the “All Afloat” Charity introducing three Wrexham Junior schools to sailing on Thursdays. Seeing these children grow and thrive over their 6 week session in June and July, then 6 more weeks in September and October was a real joy. Many of the children who came, would not otherwise have had the opportunity to try out our wonderful sport. We are looking to repeat and grow all these sessions again in 2022.

Working with “All Afloat” we have also been able to set up a structure to receive payment for the use of our facilities and qualified Instructors, opening up new income streams for the club.

Talking of finance, As Nick will explain the Club has been in the fortunate position of continuing to receive Covid grants. Our target was to reach year end with £10k in the bank, Our finishing point with £16k in the bank was a combination of prudent investment, increased membership and opening up new income streams.

We were able to invest in:-

  • Underwriting our Reg Gibbs “Discover Sailing Week” and membership drive bringing in new members, especially families.
  • Refurbishing the toilet block, now going into phase 3 refurbishing the interior led by Chris from the Model Boat section.
  • Re-decorating the Club Room and replacing the rusty steel furniture has made a big difference. We still have budget in hand to replace the flooring. 
  • Replacing the old white dory with the centre steered Dell Quay Dory, which also allows us to continue to provide Powerboat training as well as a stable platform instructing and a great Safety Boat.
  • Replacing the tippy small dory with another O Boat for the Model Boaters to use as a recovery boat, and as an additional safety boat. This puts our safety fleet is a great state for many years to come.
  • Collecting the new pontoons.
  • Support Dinghy Instructor training, First Aid course and PB2 training.
  • Growing the Club Fleet by one Topper and starting to tackle a backlog of maintenance on all the boats. This will continue in 2022
  • Underwrite restarting our Social calendar including Fireworks night.

The Social Side of the Club has been in the doldrums for several years. Covid restrictions did not help. But at last, in September, we were able to restart our Social programme and did we have a ball? Regatta Weekend started on the Thursday with the “All Afloat” Schools sailing, then a scout group came in the evening for a taster session. The Last Night of the Juniors was great fun with sailing, paddling, cakes and certificates. Saturday Morning was the Arthur Jones Classic Regatta with Elin sailing a Solo for the first time taking both Solo Trophy and the overall trophy. Least said about the performance of the other Solo skipper the better. The Model boaters held their exhibition of amazing models. Quiz and Chips was back with a vengeance, including the sale of Children to each team for the hard-fought Paper Boat Championship. Well done to Gareth winning the top prize.  It was a pity you scoffed all the chocolates at once and were too sick to join in Pirate Day. Pirate Day, what can I say? Absolute chaos in fancy dress: Barts Bash drag race, then the Pirate Games. Thanks to the ghost of “Pirate Pete” for the Treasure Hunt, also to the mums for the catering.

Regatta Weekend brought together our new band of cake makers and socially inclined volunteers led by Zoe, and how they have grown from this flying start.

For many years GSC Bonfire Night was a long-standing community event, but was also a huge risk that had often lost money for the club until it was stopped a few years ago. Creating space for and building the bonfire always caused a lot of work.

So we redesigned the event as Fireworks Night, without the Bonfire (but with Bill’s pig) and hit the publicity hard via social media. Nick managed to negotiate an excellent deal with Waterways Garden Centre for the fireworks and our insurers were reasonable in their demands. On the night we were up against the much bigger Fireworks event at Gresford Football Club. It was a real joy that people the football club was having to turn away were able to join our event. We welcomed over 150 people to the event all of whom were really appreciative of the club and the event. Even the free loaders who parked along the road willingly paid up (thank you John for shaking the bucket) With sales of Hot dogs and soup the event made a margin of over £800 which we have set aside to underwrite our next Fireworks night.  The “Big” Fireworks display at Gresford football club fizzled out after about 10 minutes, we were still going after 30. Most of all we are now back in our community. 

As I have mentioned before, with the Saturday Group growing into the Frostbite Series and the growth of Sunday Social Sailing (and paddle boarding) you have reignited the dinghy side of the club. Thank you to all who have taken part and made this possible. 

Our Final Frostbite race followed by Mince pies, Carols and prizegiving was a good old traditional end to our season. Who knew that the words of Jingle Bells were so risqué?

It has not all been plain sailing. Our old membership register has shown its limitations. Pete and Brian have started moving it from sheets of paper and disconnected spread sheets to a proper Data Base. Our parchment and quill based financial systems also needs to be moved into the 21st century. Nick and Mark are now working to put the Membership renewal and applications on-line. More of that later.

Our Training Centre Procedures are being reviewed and updated rwady for a new Training Principal to take over from Nick.

Chris from the Model Boat section is leading the toilet block refurbishment with Simon sorting out the electrics and input from Nick.  Simon is leading on a new boat store and widening of the Car Park with Tim. Our Social Team has also started making exciting plans.

So, there is work for the new committee to do. And with the new season will come more opportunities to have fun on the water.

Talking of the Committee we are also seeing several changes.

  • Nick is standing down from the Training Principal role after over 30years involvement in the club’s training, and as Club Treasurer for the last year.
  • Bill has decided it is time for somebody else to look after the club’s grounds so is stepping down after 5 years as Club Captain. 
  • Gordon, Ray and Keith stepped in when things got tough in 2020 and have all played a quiet but essential role in stabilising the club and helping us get 2021 going.

On behalf of you all I thank them all for their efforts and contributions to the Club.

It has been a privilege to serve as your Commodore for the last year and a half. I trust that you will support the future committee and Commodore as much as you have supported the Committee it has been my honour to lead.

As I said at the start; 12 months ago though Gresford SC had survived 2020, the Challenge was “to make Gresford SC Thrive again in 2021 and beyond”. I think we have made a good start. Thank you all for making this happen.

Chris Jones

New Committee

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Following the AGM we have a new club Committee for the 2022 Season.

OfficerElected
Ex OfficioCommodore,Simon Jones
 Vice-Commodore,vacant
 Rear Commodore,Chris Jones
 Honorary SecretaryPeter Barker
 Honorary TreasurerMia Young
 Club CaptainBill Jones ….  With support,
 CommitteeDinghy RepresentativeMark Richardson
 Model Boat RepresentativeChris Pendlebury
 Junior RepresentativeDavid Jones
Social CoordinatorZoe O Neill
 Training PrincipalChris Jones
Welfare OfficerEleanor  Dowsett
 CommunicationsLee Wheatley

Toilet Block Phase 3

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The final phase of refurbishing the toilet block is now well underway led by Chris from the Model Boat Section with help from Nick & Simon. The walls have now had chance to dry out following the rendering and new windows, fitted in the spring. The old ceilings have all been removed and replaced with OSB, soon to be painted white. Simon has replaced all the wiring and all the old plumbing has been removed ready for a new hot water tank, showers and a gent’s toilet.

Phase 3 stage 1 new ceiling, plumbing and first fix electrics
All painted up just awaiting the new permanent lighting.

The team hope to finish the project ready for the new dinghy sailing season starting in March.

GSC Fireworks Back with a Bang

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After a long break our big community event, Fireworks Night, came back with a BANG.

Over 250 people joined us at the Club and several more from the road side (most of whom accepted our invitation to make a donation).

The excellent fireworks display run by Nick, Simon and David lasted for well over half an hour, beautifully reflected in the still waters of The Flash.

A dry warm evening for time time of year and a large crowd helped make a wonderful atmosphere, helped by lashings of hot dogs, cakes, hot drinks and other good food,

Thank you to Zoe and the Saturday Morning Sailing group for running the catering.

And just in case anybody was feeling a little chilled, Bill’s “Peppie the Pig” patio heater made from an old air cylinder kept the members warm on the front lawn. Who needs an expensive to insure bonfire?

The feedback has been amazing. Thank you to the whole team for making this such a memorable and sociable evening.

We will be back next year on 5 November 2022.

Training Re-certified

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Our Training Centre has been audited and re certified as a Recognised RYA Training Centre. Thanks to Nick, Simon, Brian and the team for all their work making this happen again.

We have also been certified to offer Dinghy Racing courses to supplement our Adult and Junior beginner and Power Boat courses.

Gresford Sailing Club Fireworks Night is Back

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Gresford Sailing Club’s popular community event is back this year:-

Fireworks Night

Friday 5th November,

Gates open 7pm, Fireworks over The Flash start 7:30pm

Entrance £5 per head, Children under 5 Free,

Pay in cash if possible please.

Parking included.

Refreshments’ including Hot dogs, Soup and Cakes

Please do not bring Sparklers; we will be giving glow sticks to all children.

Saturday Family Sailing

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Why should the kids have all the fun? As Friday evening juniors came to an end we asked if any of the parents would like to learn to sail. Nine parents and eleven juniors have taken up the challenge on Saturday mornings.

Parents and Juniors improving their skills

The aim is to build enough skills for more of our members to join and enjoy our Frostbite series of races in November and December. This not a formal RYA Stage 1 training course, but does follow the RYA Method to introduce (or reintroduce) members to sailing and to be able to sail round one of our racing courses either as helm or crew.

Junior Coaching on Saturday mornings

For the Juniors who are already at RYA Level 1-2 we are starting to introduce the basics of racing. We will start to introduce the parents to racing through the later sessions, then coach them throughout the Frostbite series.

Three New Dinghy Instructors

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Congratulations to David, Lucia and Zoe who have all successfully completed their RYA Dinghy Instructor training courses. David is now a fully registered instructor, Lucia and Zoe just need to update their First Aid certificates and complete the paperwork.

This is a big milestone for the Club as we build a new cohort of Sailing instructors over the next few years. Back in the spring we inducted nine Assistant Instructors. Over the next few years we hope these foundations will provide a sustained team to help us introduce more juniors and adults to our sport and club.

Regatta Weekend 10-12 September 2021

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Pirates in action

Our Regatta Weekend started on Thursday evening with 6th Wrexham Scouts coming for a taster session. Lack of wind gave us the opportunity to get the Scouts into our Opi dinghies with paddles to learn balance and the basic control of boats. Teamwork saw some of the younger members winning the paddle races then exploring the Island. A theory session with knots and the naming of parts of the boats saw all 13 Scouts gaining their Level 1 Sailing badge

Juniors End of Season Party and Award of Certificates, Friday 10 September. Light winds and 36 children on the water. with nights drawing in this was a relatively short sailing session followed by the award of Certificates and a post sailing pizza party organised by the parents.

A successful end to Friday Juniors Sailing 2021

Arthur Jones Classic Regatta: Saturday 11 September. Racing for the GP14, Enterprise, Mirror and Solo trophies. Officers of the Day Nick & Simon organised a series of three races with fierce completion in variable and shifting winds. Elin sailing Nick’s Solo for the first time quickly got to grips with a new boat leading the fleet in the second and third races to take the overall trophy. Alan Rogerson excelling with his accustomed wind knowledge and guile to take second overall.

Arthur Jones Classic Reg Gibbs Trophy Results.
Overall winner Elin Jones
Solo           1st      Elin Jones                   2nd   Chris Jones

GP14          1st    Alan Rogerson                  2nd  David Hopkins 3rd   Peter Barker
Enterprise   1st   Leigh Whitley                    2nd John Young

Our Model Boaters put on an impressive display of their beautiful models in the club house, while on the water there was keen racing and more displays by the powered models.

Quiz & Chips and our annual Paper Boat Racing Competition, Saturday 11 September. About 35 members and guests came along for our fun, vaguely nautical themed, quiz night During the First round of the quiz teams competed for chocolate prizes which were then used to hire the younger members as their Paper Boat Racing competitors. The children then competed in pairs in two series of races Ultimate winners were Gareth and Cerys. The evening was rounded off with Fish & Chips, with a free bar and cake to celebrate organiser Chris’s milestone birthday.

Pirate Day with Bart’s Bash: Sunday 12 September.

Chaos and bedlam with a Pirate Theme. Fancy Dress optional.


11:00 Bart’s Bash Race, 20 boats and 24 competitors in this drag race around the Flash nearly beating our previous record of 23 boats and 24 competitors. Very light winds

Briefing the competitors
Chaos before the start
then the mass start.

Stiff father son competition saw Simon managing to hold off David to take the overall race, Alan again applying wind knowlede and guile to take second in his Graduate. Firther prizes for juniors sailing RS Fevas, Toppers and Opies.

Pirate games and Pirate Pete’s Treasure Hunts saw juniors (and a couple of parents) paddling around the Flash following Pirate Pete’s clues and red herrings to find a hoard of gold chocolate coins, Pirates then went on to build dens and consume their winnings.
Hot food, Pirates Punch, and other welcome refreshments were organised by the parents group in the club house,

Upgrading the Safety Fleet

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Our Fleet of Coach /Safety /Rescue / Assistance boats was sorely in need of upgrading. The old Dory affectionately known as “The Black Pig” had been holed and sunk too many times and was beyond repair so was scrapped last winter. The remaining little white Dory was unstable with water trapped in the foam between the hulls. A few years ago it tipped two model boater’s into the Flash, so was considered unsuitable for general duties. the two O Boats now named “Arthur” and “Reg” after our founders are just what we need for most duties, but with 30 Juniors we need a fleet of about 4 Coach boats for Friday Evenings. The requirements for RYA Power Boat 2 training also looks for a wheel steered boat that can reach planing speeds.

We set aside some of the Covid Grant monies to upgrade the fleet.

First a wheel steered Dory. RIBs are not really suitable for the Flash and a bit delicate for our pontoons, Simon,Brian and Nick started trawling the internet for suitable Dorys. With cathedral hull these make very stable boats both at speed and stopped. They are not so good as RIB in big waves but that is not a problem on The Flash. After much searching and comparing ideas we homed in on the Dell Quay 13′ Dory. several examples were viewed on line and a couple of examples written off due to ageing engines. Simon finally tracked down a contender in Devon with original gel coat a reasonably new four stroke engine and a nearly new road trailer. Chris was on a long weekend break in Devon so went to view the boat and check the engine ashore. A deal was struck well within our budget and Chris towed our new Dory back to the Flash.

On the Flash the Dory has lived up to expectations. Some minor problems with dirty fuel were quickly solved by Brian and Nick. With wheel steering, electric start and a fitted bilge pump the Dory is very initiative to use for car drivers. It’s stability is also remarkable.

Replacing the tippy little white Dory was a stroke of luck. O Boats are sought after for their proven robustness and stability. Simon spotted a couple of rare examples on E bay. One in Crew came without trailer and engine at a very reasonable asking price. We have suitable spare engines and the trailer which came with the Dell Quay Dory was suitable. So Simon arranged a viewing. Pete sorted out the EBay side of things and Chris went along as driver. The boat was in better condition than we could have hoped for at the price so a deal was struck, the boat loaded onto the trailer and back to the Flash within a couple of hours. Judicious use of a soldering iron fixed a couple of deep gouges in the deck, the missing bungs were replaced and the outboard bracket refitted.

Trials with the Model Boater’s electric outboard and the larger petrol outboards have been successful. Primary this OBoat will be kept afloat as recovery boat for the Model Boaters also as a fourth coach boat for dinghy training. The Model Boater’s who have tried it have been very impressed with their new boat.

Buying both boats we have used less than half our original budget and the quotations for a new boat store next to the container are very reasonable. Most of all the club now has a safety fleet which will serve well for many years to come.

Names for the new boats have been mooted: Rodney (after Rod Evans) for the Dell Quay Dory and Harry (after Harry Bainbridge) for the new O Boat, honouring both Rod and Harry’s long commitment to the club.

The tippy little white Dory is now up for sale.