It is almost hard to believe 2015 is drawing to a close and that next year marks the 158th year of our wonderful Club. As we begin our end of year holidays it is only appropriate that we reflect on the events of the past year and begin planning for the year ahead and this year I am fortunate to reflect on 2015 while enjoying some R&R and cruising in the Seychelles with fellow Club members. While enjoying the cruising lifestyle and tranquillity of the islands I am struck by the fast pace at which we tackled the year and the number of sailing and social events that I attended during the year and which fill the Club calendar. It has certainly been a busy year and there is no doubt our calendar has a rich variety of events to cater to the needs and the many different interest groups within the Club. Unfortunately this year I will miss the traditional Christmas Regatta and the Children’s Christmas Party but I am confident that, as usual, the final Club events of the 2015 year will be both well supported and enjoyed.
While the Club has been well patronised and supported throughout the year it has, over the past few weeks, been pleasing to see a unique vibrancy within the Club with so many members and their guests enjoying the magnificent facilities offered by our Clubhouse. Hopefully we can now say, with some confidence, that the Durban summer and hopefully the summer rain is finally upon us as the Clubhouse is absolutely abuzz with members and their guests enjoying the facilities. The Ndongeni Lawns are always the most popular feature within the Clubhouse and I am certain members will enjoy the additional space on lawns following our recent project and remedial work to the seawall. The popularity of the lawns can be measured by the number of benches which members have so kindly donated over the year, the most recent donation from Roger and Carol Shaw adds to the collection of benches strategically located around the lawns where members and their guests can enjoy the balmy afternoons and beautiful sunsets over the bay. Looking ahead I believe we can look forward to a change in the landscape of the Bayside with the announcement that Durban will host the 2022 Commonwealth Games and although sailing will sadly not feature as part of the Games there is now an urgent need for the Bayside area to be developed into a world class marina and waterfront precinct.
Apart from the events on the sailing and social calendar the year has been a busy year for the Club and the various Committees who work so tirelessly behind the scenes for no reward other than the success of the Club. I am pleased to report that following the International Council of Yacht Clubs Commodore’s Forum hosted earlier in the year by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron we have been fortunate to reacquaint ourselves with our many international friends and peer clubs overseas. These connections have been enormously valuable and helpful to us and I am hopeful we can look forward to some exciting projects becoming a reality in the forthcoming year.
Perhaps the most rewarding project of the year has been the Junior Sail Training Program which continues to grow from strength to strength and is such a wonderful sight in front of the Clubhouse at high tide. Our fleet of junior boats continues to grow thanks to the generosity of members whose various contributions and the generous donations of dinghies are gratefully received and much appreciated by the juniors. The latest additions to the fleet were very kindly donated by Warren Burne. While on the subject of Club owned boats it is perhaps worth reminding members that the fleet including the L26 Tranxene and Flying Fifteen are all available to members on a daily charter basis, simply speak to Margie Harris in the Reception if you would like to set sail.
Among the other highlights of 2015 were the Ladies High Tea and the annual Trafalgar Dinner both of which were again well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone present. I am looking forward to next year’s club functions, Wine Tastings; Younger Members Evenings; Club Draw Evenings together with the Vice Commodore’s ever popular quarterly Cocktail Parties for new members and would like to encourage all members to participate in these events and indeed general club life.
Perhaps the only disappointment I have this year has been the response to our Wednesday Evening “Fun-d” Sailing Series. The Sailing Committee dedicated this season to encouraging more people on boats and tried to use this opportunity to raise funds for CANSA. Charity events are a popular concept among overseas yacht clubs and many of our other local sports so it is hard to believe that the Durban yachtsmen have not embraced the initiative, although perhaps the weather thus far has not been conducive to greater participation.
At this busy time of the year it is customary for us to pay tribute to our all our loyal and dedicated staff under the careful leadership of our Club Manger Mr Steve Rawlins. This special team of people work extraordinarily hard with some long hours tending to the needs of members and the many end of year functions hosted at the Club. It is only appropriate that we show our appreciation for their efforts in maintaining our ”home from home” and the standards to which we are so accustomed by contributing generously to the Staff Gratuity Fund so they too may all enjoy some Christmas Cheer with their families over the festive period.
I do hope you will be able to find the time to visit the Club over the festive period and share the magnificent facilities with your families and friends. We of course also look forward to welcoming our many out-of-town members and renewing old acquaintances during the holidays.
Finally, may all your wishes come true in 2016. I believe that we can expect some of our wishes will come to pass during the course of next year and we can look forward to some exciting times for our historic and prestigious Club.
On behalf of my fellow Flag Officers we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and commitment to the Club throughout 2015 and we wish you and your families a wonderful festive season and best wishes for the New Year.