Dear Lark sailors and friends,
Your class needs you, and together we can make it great again.
As you may know, I have become Lark Class Chairman again and I would like to share with you my reasons for standing and my vision for the class.
But first, I need to say a huge thank you to James Ward, who has steered the class through extremely difficult times, got the organisation and committee to a great place, and put in a vast amount of work himself to move the class forward.
Despite this, the Lark class is in a critical situation, with low turnouts meaning some events become unsustainable and very few new members or boats recently. We have to turn the class around, or we will lose it forever.
So that is why I stood for Chairman, as this class is so important to me, my life, and the lives of most of my friends. So many of us have met their partner and life-long friends in the class, had amazing times and loved sailing the class. I know none of us want to let it disappear into the mists of time, and so together we'll save it. We have been here before in the late 90s and managed to bounce back through a combination of listening to members, clever-thinking, passion and endeavour.
I've put together a 5 point plan to rescue the class:
1. We strengthen the committee with Nigel Hufton, Steve Cumley and Ruth Johnson, all past and long serving committee members who have volunteered to use their expertise to help the class. This committee has already started working hard and you will start to see the output of our work over the coming weeks and months
2. We encourage Lark sailors to buy a new boat, with the aim of getting 10-20 boats on the water for next season. We have signed a new world-class builder in Winder boats, which will feed more second-hand boats down the fleet and hopefully bring in new members. I would encourage you to think about joining the 5 confirmed orders we already have, to give the class this much needed boost
3. We focus more attention and effort on the excellent Great 8 series we started this year, but with childcare and better socials and more marketing focus to encourage turnout. There will be old favourites including Rock, popular club venues like South Staffs and Netley and awesome sea events like Lyme Regis. We are also planning some special events that you will hear more about in time.
4. We change the Lark Nationals to a 4 day event (Saturday 20th to Tuesday 23rd August 2016), hosted at the fantastic venue of Lyme Regis. The research we did in August showed that a week is too long for many people to attend. It predicted that a 4-day Nationals could easily double the attendance. However, we will retain the classic Lark package of fun on the water and off it. Please book the time off now!
5. We focus on the 50th birthday in 2017 with special events and parties to celebrate a half century or Lark sailing. We will start to formulate these plans now, but it will be a year to remember
These are just the quicker fixes and there are longer term actions around supporting club sailing, attracting youth sailors, training and improving our communications to you, which are already in progress.
So what can you do? I would only ask that you consider changing two things:
a) You do more events and/or club sailing than you did this year. If we all did one more event in 2016, turnouts would double over 2015
b) You offer to help wherever you can and if someone on the committee or at your Lark club asks you to help out, that you embrace it as a way of helping the class get back on its feet. Together we can make light work of this task.
If we can harness the massive enthusiasm for the Lark class that everyone tells me about, then we can get the class back to where it was, and most importantly we can infect others with that enthusiasm and make them Lark advocates as well.
Thanks you for electing me as Chairman and long live the Larks.
Chairman - The Lark Class