Growth, Capital Projects and Thriving in COVID at Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club

One of the advantages of being one of the most isolated cities in the world is that isolation in these times of COVID has not been difficult. As such, we have led relatively normal lives over the last two years, excluding the inability to travel or to receive visitors.

Indeed, Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (RFBYC) has flourished over the past 24 months. There has been substantial growth in membership numbers and strong participation in all Club events, on and off water in sail, power, rowing, and even socialising, despite COVID restrictions. Membership is at a seven-year high with encouraging statistics in age, gender and interests. High-level competitive aspects of sailing, such as international and national championship events have, of course, been curtailed, and yet, local and Club participation has been excellent.

Apart from COVID, the last year can be summarized as: “Build, Build, Build.”

The combined efforts of the Club’s Long-Term Planning Committee, General Committee and Capital Works Committee established projects and initiated rapid development that will set the Club up for safe and efficient operations for many decades.

The Club completed works on a new Start Box as well as major works on some of the marina jetties. Achieved on-time and on-budget, the final result provides robust pens for yachts and power boats in an exposed area of the marina, as well as a safe and functional working environment for our volunteer start teams. Reconstruction of the jetties required significant boat movements and the members affected showed great understanding during this time. With overseas travel restricted, increased boat ownership has seen strong demand for pens. The marina has had a strong year financially, but future maintenance is under review to ensure we can continue to offer a safe and functional marina.

The Club’s excellent Discover Sailing Training Centre received national recognition. Our members showed amazing support for the fundraising campaign established to finance the new Dinghy and Training Centre building project. The new Dinghy and Training Centre building and surrounds was completed over the two-year period. The contract, plus professional services and contingency amounted to an expected outlay of approximately $3.2 million. Construction was completed in time for most of the 2021/22 summer sailing season. The facility provides for dinghy storage, coach and administration offices, conference rooms, catering facilities and change rooms. It is a substantial improvement on the 30-year-old ‘games room’ previously used for all these purposes.

Another major project completed in time for the current sailing season has been the rebuilding of a substantial part of the hard-standing, boatlifting and wharf area. Immediately after Closing Day April 2021, works commenced with demolition and removal of the existing structure. The rebuild, over water, abutting soft limestone cliffs, and incorporating two lifting cranes was finished in time for the 21/22 summer season Opening Day in October 2021.

With several major capital projects completed, the Club is now focussed on setting a new program to plan for future needs of Club facilities.