A full-to-capacity gathering of sailing club representatives from all the counties in the south west region met at Haven Banks Outdoor Education Centre in Exeter on Saturday, 11 November, for the SW Affiliated Clubs Conference and AGM.

Joining the regional staff and members of the SW Volunteer Team at the full-day event were a number of RYA head office personnel, including deputy chairman Vernon Harten Ash, director of Sport Development Alistair Dickson, and members of the Racing and Technical teams.

An in-depth introduction to the SW Regional Plan, and what it means for clubs, was well-received and prompted both questions and discussion during the breaks. It was followed by a thought-provoking presentation by guest speakers Tom Mack from Active Devon and Mark Goodman, CEO of VOYC Devon, a network of voluntary youth organisations. The two gave important insights into clubs’ crucial task of attracting and retaining volunteers.

Networking during the event

After a busy networking lunch, delegates were offered a choice of ten different club development workshops to attend, with two rounds available during the afternoon. They ranged from advice on growing and supporting your volunteer and instructor teams, using Facebook and improving your website (run by SocialB) and club race training to learning about marine industry opportunities in the region. A final round-up and prize raffle ended a very successful day.

SW Regional Development Officer Tony Wood was delighted with the turnout: “The event was fully-booked, and I have had some very complimentary feedback about the conference. It is clear that these events are very useful for our clubs, and we look forward to planning the next one!”