It may be navigating unchartered territory but Llangorse Sailing Club in the Brecon Beacons is making good use of the time on lockdown to stay afloat.
Last October, severe flooding forced the club to finish its season a month early. As the rain continued to pour, the site remained inaccessible until March. Only the clubhouse remained, standing proud on its mound. It had become an island.
The next few months were spent busily preparing for the club to open its doors again in the spring with more than 200 club races and inland championships – as well as a full training and coaching programme - planned over the course of the season.
March came - and of course so did the spread of Coronavirus, causing clubs up and down the country to shut up shop:
“March is membership-renewal month. We brush the winter cobwebs off the racing boats in the Cobweb Cup. But a flooded site - isolated by Covid 19 restrictions -understandably makes members think twice about committing, however modest the investment may be,” explains club Secretary Robert Dangerfield. “And in shut-down, the additional income we raise from our training programme and special events revenue has disappeared completely.”
Yet the club this week made the decision not to apply for the Emergency Relief Fund, announced by Welsh Government and Sport Wales. £400,000 will be targeted at clubs who are already facing significant challenges after a difficult few weeks and who are likely to need immediate financial support over the next 12 weeks. Dangerfield explains the decision:
“We are accustomed to a certain amount of downtime in winter months and we plan for that. We can keep our costs low too – we are not buying fuel for the safety power-boats which need to be out on the water to keep children as young as six - safe.”
“The club’s accustomed to flexing-up and down its financial activity to the point that we can go into a state of hibernation.
“We can survive and we will eventually reopen. We own our facility, our site and our boats. Above all we have an intensely committed core membership.
“We have a great relationship with Sport Wales – whose support has enabled us to sustain a constant programme of improvements. In fact, the club has received more than £30,000 in a Places for Sport grant to help purchase three new sailing boats which will extend the training fleet. Not only will these be used for instruction, moreover they’re used for free have-a-go sessions for complete newcomers. These include people of all ages and abilities – including those with physical disabilities and other special needs.”
Meanwhile, the period of lockdown and isolation is being used to plan, plan, plan. Dangerfield explains:
“We have been spending the time overhauling our website. We are very much a volunteer-run, muddy boots and modesty club but we need a professional standard website that can carry video and that has some capacity for visitors to book on training programmes and events as we are a formal RYA Recognised Training Centre.
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“Now’s the time to do it and it is also a good way to keep the club community together as we are focused on a project.”
Dangerfield and the team are also looking ahead to consider how they can help manage flooding at the site:
“As a glacial lake and part of a river-system, the site – and the periphery is constantly changing. We need to maintain our launching area and jetties so we will need to tailor our Capital Expenditure Programme before next winter.”
The club’s schedule of training courses is being refreshed, ensuring it remains fully up to date with the RYA curriculum. First aid certificates have been renewed while its elite racing programme is being planned, again! It is doing everything it can so that when lockdown does end, the club will be ready to go.
One thing’s for the sure, this club have the determination and know-how to survive. We wish them well.
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Club Solutions was created to help sports clubs and volunteers in Wales. So, if you have any further questions or you would like to share how your club has adapted to the Covid-19 outbreak, please get in touch with our friendly team, or let’s chat on social!