April 2021 - Re-opening WBB
Dear Members, Instructors and Supporters
After an extraordinary year, and one that we all will be extremely glad to see the back of, we are now in the process of bringing the Base back to life. However, this is a lot more involving than might be imagined. The permanent staff, that is Adam, Pippa and me, remain on partial furlough, as this helps reduce the financial demands ahead of starting to bring revenues in again. That said, we have been working on a three day a week basis since the beginning of March, and now most boats are back in the water, if not all completely ready for action – that is still work in progress. In addition, there remain a fair number of cleaning jobs and minor repairs to the building to complete, which has become rather grubby after a year of inaction. Particular thanks go to all the volunteers who have helped, and continue to help, with this.
There is also, and continues to be, a significant amount of planning to be done in terms of watersports programmes, and how we can run these with all the necessary Covid-19 protocols in place. Schools remain uncertain about whether and when their classes can return, though it is hoped that Harris Sixth Form Academy will be able to start kayaking sessions some time in the Summer Term. The watersports programme therefore remains under review, and is subject to any further revisions to the government’s roadmap for easing restrictions. Nonetheless, our intention is to restart adult powerboat courses from 17 April, with the priority going to a number of pre-paid courses. We will run as many courses as we can as the year progresses, and will assess the requirement for instructors once we have gauged the demand. Thereafter, we intend to restart sailing and kayaking from 17 May, though please keep checking the website for details.
Inevitably, we have to implement some changes to the way we operate, at least until the government has determined that Covid-19 is no longer an overall threat. For the next few months at least we will still be relying heavily on volunteers, and will send out calling notices from time to time. However, please do not turn up unannounced; if you have time to spare please contact the Base first so that we know that you’re coming. Likewise, when we resume all members’ watersports in May, you will be asked to book in first in advance, so that we can control numbers inside the building. For the time being anyway, I’m afraid you may not be allowed in should you just turn up on spec.
Some of you may be aware that last October Retro Catering (our resident events company) declared that it had ceased trading. However, for the past few months the Trustees and I have been working with events consultants to find a new events partner for the WBB. From the original six companies that expressed an interest, I am delighted to tell you that we have contracted The Admirable Crichton, a London events company with a highly regarded reputation. We are aware of a significant pent up demand for all kinds of events (as well as powerboat courses), the revenue from which provides essential financial support for all our watersports; it is particularly reassuring to have such a smart new events company onboard (so to speak).
Our intention is to focus on WBB-based activities this year rather than any awaydays or watersports camps, though these will definitely be brought back in 2022. In the meantime, the team and I look forward to getting back to business.