From the President’s Desk [42]

By Norm Sanders

The NSWSKC Executive met in Canberra on April 8. Present were Norm Sanders (President), Dave Winkworth (VP & Training Officer), Stuart Trueman (Secretary-Treasurer), Nick Gill (Trips Convenor), Andrew Eddy (Internet Co-ordinator), and Ian Phillips (Editor).

As the meeting processed, it became obvious that the Club was facing the hard reality of financial life in the new millennium. In a nutshell, our expenses have gone up (and will take another jump with the GST) and our income has been stable. The biggest increase was in the area of insurance premiums. They have risen dramatically as a result of upgrading coverage to a level which adequately protects members.

The newsletter is the other major expenditure item for the Club. At present, it costs about $4 per copy (280 copies are printed). We simply don’t have enough money to produce the usual four editions this year, and will be forced to cut back to three. I feel this is very unfortunate, as the publication is first class and very popular. The newsletter, incidentally, will henceforth be called a magazine as a result of the vote of the Executive. The renaming reflects the growing size and professionalism of the publication.

The website also costs money, but we decided not to reduce the service. The website is really the face the Club shows to the wider world. It has a very good reputation as a source of information about the Club and sea kayaking in general. We get a lot of inquiries from overseas as well as Australia. Many of these lead to new memberships.

The Executive decided to emphasise on the website that the NSWSKC is a voluntary organisation. Some seem to be getting the impression that it is merely another commercial operation. We indulged in a pat on the back for ourselves over the services which the Club offers FREE to members.

Which brings us back to money. It is painfully obvious that a $25 membership per year is not enough for the Club to function properly. The Executive is not taking any action at the moment about raising the fees but will instead put the item on the agenda for the next AGM in November.

Also discussed was the vexed issue of ‘Freedom of the Press’. The newsletter (oops – magazine) often contains opinionated articles which cause heated discussion. Although the pages are open to all members to express their views, some take exception to the fact that defects in specific kayaks are mentioned. However, other members find the criticisms very helpful and point out that the painfully bland reviews printed in the commercial sea kayak publications are next to useless.

The Executive felt that it would be a sad day for sea kayaking if a potentially dangerous fault in a kayak went un-corrected simply because an owner or manufacturer might be offended if the fault were mentioned.

As for the less serious (and far more humorous) sniping at each other’s kayaks and abilities which occasionally takes place, we’ll all just have to grin and bear it (and I get rubbished as much as anybody). To censor this activity would be like forbidding political cartoons in the newspapers.

The last item discussed by the Executive was the Trips Calendar, now being watched over by Nick Gill. He stated that many Club members weren’t aware of the fact that ANYONE can put an event on the calendar. The person who organises the trip doesn’t necessarily have to be the Trip Leader on the water.

On the recent very successful Grade 2 weekend paddle at Jervis Bay, Margot Todhunter organised the event and I took the Trip Leader role. Nick is urging members to contact him with ideas for new events or trips which they would like to undertake.

In closing, I would just like to point out that the NSWSKC itself is in very good shape. We have lots of enthusiastic members and a wide range of training programs and recreational events. All we need is a few more dollars, which is really the easy part.

Happy paddling.