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RYA Cymru Wales Club Affiliate Conference

by Hamish Stuart 16 Dec 2017 15:09 GMT
RYA Cymru Wales Club Affiliate Conference at Pembrokeshire Yacht Club © RYA Cymru Wales

Around 25 sailing club representatives from South and West Wales gathered in Milford Haven to find out ways to boost and maintain membership at the RYA Cymru Wales Club Affiliate Conference.

There was the chance to find out more about membership trends and how to keep club members happier, as well as attracting new members and keeping their personal data safe.

"It was great to see so many people from across South and West Wales sailing at the Club Affiliate Conference in Pembrokeshire Yacht Club in Milford Haven," said RYA Cymru Wales national development officer Ruth Iliffe.

"It was a tremendous turnout. Hopefully they will have found it a really useful event and will have plenty to take back to their clubs as a result. It was a really productive day for us as well as the clubs "We were able to update clubs on the insights we have learned from data gathered across the nation by the RYA, as well as lessons learned from 2017 best practice around Wales. There was plenty of information which will really help clubs develop in the ways they want to go.

"Did you know just under half of our club members have taken part in sailing or boating 13 times or more in the last year! Is that true in your club? What could you do to change this statistic?"

RYA legal manager Mandy Peters travelled to West Wales for the event with some important information of data protection – and a warning for clubs about how they keep their member information.

"The new general data protection legislation which is coming into force next May will apply to all clubs in all regions and my understanding, from talking to people, is that many clubs are not aware of it," she explained.

"The potential fines are substantial under the new legislation, up to £20 million – that level would not be applicable to our clubs, but it could still be a lot of money.

"Clubs often look terrified, but they recognise it is really important to do something about it - which is a good thing."

Jack Fenwick, RYA Keelboat Development Manager, suggested ways clubs could make their racing programmes more attractive – after hearing more members take part in general cruising than racing.

"We are talking about options clubs have for increasing their racing," he said. "There are certain key areas that are most important for people when they choose to go racing and ways you can optimise those areas – be it course selection, timing of racing, race management, how that works in with your social activity and how you work with volunteers who manage your racing.

"When you look at pretty much every sailing venue round the country you have hundreds of boats sat in marinas who are just cruising and there is no reason those boats should not be taking part in some form of racing activity.

"It does not have to be the Fastnet race, just a bunch of boats going to one place altogether and happening to work out what the results are at the end of it.

"The more serious you get then the more serious the racing, but for most people it is a social activity and the fun aspect is what we need to concentrate on as opposed to strict adherence of perfect race course or perfect handicap system."

Kieran John. RYA Cymru Wales communications officer discussed innovations with Facebook that could help clubs. "We looked at Facebook advertising and how to boost Facebook posts, how to attract new people into sailing clubs and reach a wider audience," he explained.

"I am trying to get across the point about how you can target people and use your club resources more effectively than through printed media or traditional advertising.

"It might not be the best way to communicate with existing members, but it is about how you can attract new people to the clubs."

Pembrokeshire Yacht Club proved excellent hosts for a gathering of clubs which could have a real impact around South and West Wales.

For further details about Welsh sailing and watersports, please go to www.rya.org.uk/rya-regions/rya-cymru-wales or www.facebook.com/RYACymruWales or follow on Twitter @RYACymruWales. You can also keep up to date by following RYA Cymru Wales on Instagram.