Club response to members survey

Firstly, we would like to thank everyone taking time to complete the club members’ survey sent out during the Christmas period. Your feedback helps us to improve the facilities and service for all members, we know that if one member is saying it, then there are many more thinking the same thing; every comment is valuable. Here are our responses to the comments made.  We have grouped comments by area and included a few updates at Queen Mary Sailing Club.

Our goal is simple, is to get more comments like this one … ‘A well-run club, staff always helpful. Excellent facilities.’

The Club

Thank you for comments noticing the improvements in 2019 (Balconies and ground floors); it has shown other areas of the club which need refurbishment.  Where one aspect looks fantastic, it is making the older bits look very old. Notably few comments saying ‘Whilst there is plenty of hot water these days, the tiling in the men’s showers is in need of an upgrade’.  Improvements of the showers are on our wish list.

Last year we were continually disappointed with the service from the cleaners and over Christmas we changed contractors, a new team is in place to resolve comments like ‘the green algae on the grouting should be clean, as should be the nozzles on the shower heads.’ We have seen improvements that we hope you will notice too.

Grounds

‘I think the area immediately around the clubhouse should be more tidy and welcoming.’ Tidiness around the club house has improved with the removal of the old marquee, better use of containers and we are working to improve all areas of the grounds. This is a working club and particularly the maintenance area can look littered with junk and it may not be possible to hide everything away with its location.

‘Access to a jet wash’ and ‘easier access to hoses in the boat park would be good’. We have a jet wash, next to the hose, located on the boat park side of the club and we will look to make access easier.

Currently the boat park is about 95% and there are boats in various condition not being used, ‘Would be nice if the boats that have been abandoned in the dinghy park are cleared out to make more space.’ when the boat stops being paid for the club either adopts, sells or removes the abandoned boat. If a member is still paying the club for the boat then they have every right to keep it in their berth; we monitor membership and the boat park.

We are planning to gate and shut the walk from the club house to the boat park, through the bosuns area, this is primarily for safety.

‘Mud!!! Would it be possible to astro-turf the whole park? Even if there was a 50% area this wold provide somewhere to rig and de-rig without getting the sail covered in mud. Probably too expensive – this is a constant groan from all the sailors I talk to.’ Well let’s look at this, if there is an old football 3G pitch becoming 4G and looking to freely recycle its pitch near you, let the club know (giving it to us is cheaper than disposal).

 

Windsurf rigging

There are comments from windsurfers regarding the rigging area the main issue is ‘Car parking in front of the sign saying No Parking Helicopter Pad is a disgrace – I refer to members not respecting this requirement not the staff! It’s mainly day sailors who do this – how come they get the benefit from of convenient parking when members obey the rules?’ and Parking up top needs to be stamped out. It won’t deter day sailors in they are parked below.’ ‘sometimes the staff come and tell people’ but the club does not currently staff the area. This is an on-going issue and we are looking at how we can have a larger presence in this area and a clearer policy for windsurfers. The team taking number plates of visiting windsurfers as they enter the club and members respecting the rules as this feedback mentions will help improve. The continued success of the sailing school is growing our on-water staff team which will help to give us more presence on the ground.

‘I’m aware of numerous cases last summer when people didn’t pay and just got changed in the car up top.’ In 2019 we recorded over 150 temporary day sailors, many coming multiple times though out the year, it’s a great place to visit and most people follow the rules. It’s disappointing that a small number do not and as mentioned in rigging area feedback we will do more to monitor the area.

 

Windsurfing Kit

‘A different model should be explored for the windsurfing equipment. After 12-months all equipment should be sold and a fresh bulk purchase made. The wholesale discount available should enable for the equipment to be sold at cost after 12-months usage. I know of other centres that sell all equipment after 12-months at a profit. This model would both reduce the investment required to maintain the equipment level and improve the quality of equipment available for users.’ Windsurfing hire at QM has doubled in the last five years and all though every year a significant investment in kit is made, it is true that on windy days we can get stretched. So, we are looking at this starting with a full rotation of sails in 2020. ‘Pay and play’ is the future but we hope a few people are left buying kit these days; if you are that person looking to buy second-hand kit, please come and see us.

‘The windsurfing equipment for advanced users should be locked away. Not with a combination padlock (as it is now) but a key padlock only for advanced users upon request at the reception. Not sure if keeping the boards behind the club house is the best option. They end up being dragged all over the place as the sails and the rest of the equipment are on the other side’. This is good feedback for a service we started last year and it is hopefully clear to all that we do keep the advanced kit separate both for better protection and use by those with the appropriate expertise.

 

Windsurfing

‘I’m also aware not everyone who sails at QM is insured! This applies to members and non-members. The club are inherently exposed because we are a private club and if anyone has an accident due to an uninsured windsurf, then I think the club could be liable (its not like sailing at the beach). An attestation isn’t enough – I think you need to see a record annually for members and each time a day sailor sails.’ Having consulted with our insurers, our position is that this would be totally impossible for the club to manage in such a manner; and a procedure that would potentially put the club more at risk as a result. It is not a requirement in the guidance provided by the RYA for clubs, but on joining the club, Members sign up to commit to obeying the Bye-laws and temporary members sign to confirm they have appropriate insurance; anyone sailing without insurance will personally take the consequences.

‘Is there a windsurf captain? There isn’t much in the way of communication, skills training, collaboration, group sailing, social etc?’ We would love to hear from anyone who would like to be take on the role of Windsurf captain. One of the busiest free-sailing moments of 2019 counted 40 windsurfers out at the same time, which is simply amazing.  It is a vibrant sector of the club and would benefit from the building of a community. ‘QM is a great place to windsurf and works well for long, safe training sessions.’

 https://www.facebook.com/QueenMarySC/videos/405010500091264/

 

Dinghy Launching

‘The main issue with the QM facilities is the difficulty in launching and recovering dinghies, particularly in a strong onshore wind. There is not a great deal that can be done about this in terms of the physical equipment. Mats positioned at appropriate heights for the water level are a help. The help of club employees is also much appreciated.’ well said.

Access to the water with concrete banks and water height changes is challenging and a difficult situation for the club to resolve. ‘Need to find a way to make launching and recovery less damaging to boats. More rubber mats are essential as boat damage is a running joke amongst classes.’ In recent years the number of mats has increased and we continue the focus of adjusting the heights of mats and maintaining these in the variable conditions we experience. To make life easier we would like to ask fleets not to arrive on mass especially after racing, this will certainly help the team helping to recover boats. On shore waves being the main issue a nip round to the east side, for a sheltered water landing, might something to consider?

And finally, one annoying thing is the (dinghy) trollies being left on the windsurf launching area.’  This is for the sailors who launch and the team not to leave trollies in front of the windsurf container next to the spit; we will endeavour to monitor this and leave space as clear as we can for all water-users.

 

Pontoons

Black Pontoons extended: Update on the ‘The black plastic pontoon is now very short, and sometimes only usable by one boat each side’ which it was up until September when we extended it! The black pontoon has new fendering on both sides and we will be adding more rope loops to attach painters to.

Cleats on the ‘The new pontoon…’ which ‘…is quite damaging to my fibreglass boat so it limits the pontoons used’ have been removed, this was a problem for RS400 and RS200 sailors we hope the pontoon without cleats is better.

 

The Spit

The spit which divides east and west side of the reservoir is going; it was originally one kilometre in length and will be 300 metres when complete, but it will take a number of years for this to happen and no date has been confirmed for its completion… ‘Hopefully there are plans to build a bespoke launching area when the dividing spit is removed.’ We are looking at options specifically at times of lower water; we will eventually have access to the spit for east side launching, new pontoons sponsored by RTYC are being considered for the east side. Ultimately a sheltered easy east side launching facility for west side racing would fantastic.

 

Dinghy Kit

‘Although much improved, there are still too many occurrences of dinghies having breakages or having been put away untidily (lines tangled etc) by the previous user. The Club still needs an effective means for members to report breakages to staff in the dinghy park (rather than relying on members remembering to report them to the office after sailing).’ ‘Club boats are well maintained given the amount of use they get but often there are issues especially with spinnakers and furling rigs. Club boat availability, especially for training boats / double-handers is often limited at the weekends because of courses’. 

The club is busy, I’ve noticed this year that the Select boats have had more usage, due to running more courses etc., and as a consequence are showing more wear and tear.’ In 2019 we have purchased more kit than we have sold, which is all part of a success story that needs more investment and keeping on top of.

We are delighted with the RS Quest purchased in 2019 has been a real hit, but a good number of ‘The Select boats that I use are showing their age’ and we will continue to invest.  We will also look at different options for members who wish to specifically sail and race Lasers. Recent purchases in 2020 include two RSCat16 and a new Laser, with more double-handers to come as the season unfolds.

There were several comments regarding ‘massive issues regarding the quality/ maintenance of the equipment for the lasers.’ a lot of time was spent maintaining and making sure the boats were in good working order. Considerably more time was spent on the boats in 2019 and what is key going forward is that QM team are responsible for making sure all day hire visitiors put boats away in the state in which they would like to find them.

 

Opening Hours

‘Christmas opening hours seem quite limited this year. Club is closed on almost every weekday over the Christmas break when people might actually want to sail but then re-opens Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd January when most are back at work…’. No change this year the pattern follows the winter opening times, this year we expected a big rush on the Friday 27th January and just two people turned up, to check on their kit. Please enjoy the break, the team here took advantage of some much needed down time, just before the final preparations for the Bloody Mary 2020.

We also had feedback that the club ‘Should open till Sunest’ and ‘Open 7 days all year round’. It would increase staffing costs and demands on the team to do this every day and we don’t think there is the demand. Our Opening times are 7 days a week in the summer and on weekend days and Wednesday is it till sunset. We have a ‘Windy’ policy to open till sunset for Windsurfers when there are higher winds; we do this all year round, including the Monday and Tuesday in the winter months (publicised widely on social media in advance, albeit for shorter hours due to lack of daylight and colder temperatures during the colder time of year).

We committed in 2019 to longer opening hours and ‘Would love like you did at the end of last season to see in 2020 the continuation of late opening both Wednesday and Thursday evenings April-October’ … so, our plans are to do this, with ‘Foiling Thursday’ in 2020 lookout for more details.  Obviously, as we plan to be open anyway, all sailors and windsurfers are welcome to come and join us on the water.

 

Catering

This is what we are aiming for… ‘For a club able to provide food is welcomed. The caterers do a sound, solid job. It’s perfect for the club’. Thank you

‘Sometimes service on a Sunday after club racing is just too slow. I would rather support the club caterers and also have a quiet bite with fellow sailors, but I just don’t have 10 mins to wait to buy a sandwich when my family is waiting for me at home, so I am forced to the BP station instead when service is particularly slow’. We are sorry if this is you… there are some times where either nobody being served at the hatch or lots of people; when the wave comes in it is busy and can be difficult to predict. The club and catering team started a weekly call a few years ago to discuss the weekend participant numbers and we stagger activities to have lunch breaks before or after club racing at the busiest times of the year.

And the team are looking at better solutions as commented… the ‘Recent innovation of having freshly cooked pasta with separate sauce available is great – sometimes the pasta bakes can get a bit dried up if they’ve sat on the hot-plate for a while.’ which we hope is also a quicker service.

‘Observed that the Xmas meal took over, which blocked others from receiving catering’, it is a long-standing club tradition to hold a three-course Christmas lunch service for one hundred from a small kitchen shortly before Christmas.  This year we did have a food and drink service available as normal for the morning; we will advertise better for next year.  ‘I really enjoyed the Xmas lunch, Blue Wave do a great job all year round’.

It did happen but, the perception that ‘Appalled to see the vast amount of unrecyclable disposable cups being used and thrown away on busy days (300+ per day). Apparently only got 30 mugs and can’t be bothered to buy replacements’ needs re-alignment, as we are plastic-pollution focused. The catering team have moved to wooden stirring spoons and recyclable paper clubs at the large events; for ‘normal’ days we have plenty of mugs and no barriers to purchase more if needed. Those of you at this year’s Bloody Mary our largest event will have noticed the change and in normal service we are using more sustainable, china crockery and metal cutlery. So, the question is… What do you do with the plastic purchased before David Attenborough told us about the global issue!? The advice was to use them, not just bin them, which is what the team were doing at the large events, clearly not the message we would wish to convey (thanks to the information provided on the u.gov website!) but all these old stocks have been used now. To make recycling easier we have also invested in new bins with clear instructions.  We are looking at more signage to allay concerns and we will always be happy to fill your re-usable cups at any time!

Update: Did you know the catering team now accept card payments?

Service has improved loads in the last 12-18 months’ … ‘It’s good enough, don’t think it is worth pushing for anything better given the seasonal nature of the club’. Thank you!

 

Team

Always helpful. Never in a rush’.

The telephone is just left to ring for too long too often. It either needs to be answered promptly, and/or there needs to be an answerphone service (with efficient follow up afterwards to call people back).’ We tried an answer service in the past, but it did not work with the nature of weekends and just how busy we are. The team are stretched and it’s something we are mindful of. Please try again later or see if the answer is on the website.

Staff are great. I think they are thinly spread because they are concentrating on sailing and safety and not the grounds’.

I’ve really appreciated the help from the staff when I’ve either asked for it or needed it.’

‘All very good. Keep up the good work’.

This clearly is a strength of the club, don’t think you could be better at any of these categories.’

Thank you for your kind words.

 

Racing

Can we get more people on the start line? Enjoying racing for many is the reason they come to Queen Mary and the feedback in the racing section has been reviewed by our sailing committee.

Fleets Offered:

– Sadly there is generally not a Fleet I can join on a Sunday. I didn’t know this when I joined the club. The Byte CII has been chosen as Youth Olympic Class several times so it has a good pedigree. It has been designed by Ian Bruce and was the first dinghy to have an unstayed two piece carbon mast. I therefore request that you reconsider allowing the Byte to race on Sunday’s with the Laser Radial and 4.7. If the club does not allow the Byte CII to join the Sunday Laser fleet then I think my fees should be reduced to reflect the reduced racing opportunities available.
– I would probably consider more weekend racing if there was a single start for all classes, (as they are Wednesdays), otherwise it is a fairly solitary racing experience
Sailing committee has reviewed whether other classes could join the Laser start on Sundays but decided against it since the Laser only start is one of the main attractions for the very successful Laser fleet. However we are aware that it means that the handicap fleets can be rather small. Any ideas on how to encourage others to join in Sunday handicap racing would be very welcome.

Course Location:
– Mostly very good courses but too often not making best use of the whole area, positioning of windward mark often makes the first beat too short. But generally very good.

– The race management is generally very good, but sometimes the RO sets the course in a surprising part of the reservoir (too close to one of the walls for a good beat)

The Duty Officer directs safety crews where to set Sunday racing so as to leave space for windsurfing, sometimes resulting in shorter beats than the RO might wish and windward marks too close to the wall. We will review.

Course Geometry:
– Some courses are difficult to lay – trapezoid course, which has quite an effect on asymmetric boats, on whether they can use their kite on 1, 2 or 3 legs. Is there a policy on the angles to be used to make it asymmetric friendly/unfriendly?

We have recently standardised on equilateral triangles for Sunday and Wednesday racing, we are working towards a standard for trapezoid courses, the current guidance only being for equal angles top and bottom reaching legs

Course Accuracy:
With such constant shifts at QM, the guidance to Race Officers is not to delay unduly trying to get a perfect start line and beat, but they should respond to major shifts unless time is running out on Wednesday evenings. We will remind Race Officers to review and adjust before Race 2 on Sundays.

– Too reluctant to move windward mark or start line to respond to major windshifts before starting a race.

– Wednesday evening course setting has in general been poor in 2019. In particular reaches are not set correctly often I have had to gybe on a reach which is clearly not right (I sail an asym). I am a RO and never has anyone had to do that on my watch so I don’t see why I should suffer that indignity 🙂

Handicapping:
– Course setting versus PY handicapping is utterly dreadful year after year.

Handicaps are set based on the results achieved on the courses set and will adjust accordingly. The Wednesday series is closely contested by the top sailors in the club regardless of what class they sail with the final placings often being decided by the final race. Please let the Sailing Secretary know of any exceptions or if you would like to talk to the handicap officer.

OOD Points:
Race Officers get an average score based on their races after discards and including DNC. This strongly favours those sailors who have done a lot of races and have used their discards. For sailors who have not done many races, they can get an average score that is worse than if they had raced and came last… / please come and see the office and we will explain the scoring benefit for OOD’s.

Variety:
– I come to QM for the excellent 1-design Laser racing. I find pursuit races a waste of time, so I try to avoid them whenever possible. There seem to be fewer now than in former years, which I see as a good thing.
– I know that many of my fellow sailors would disagree but some variation in races would be fun I think.
– I would also prefer to see a couple more sprint days and perhaps a short pursuit thrown in on a Sunday (I know the longer BH pursuits don’t seem popular but the weather for the last few has been very poor)

Since we dropped some poorly attended pursuits we have added the between series sprints. The feedback otherwise is to keep Sunday racing and the Wednesday course rotation as now. All other ideas welcome.

Can we get more people on the start line? Enjoying racing for many is the reason they come to Queen Mary and the feedback in the racing section of the survey is being reviewed by our sailing committee.

Here is one to keep us going… ‘I have loved the Wednesday evening series. I appreciate not doing duties. I am also very appreciative of the help to launch and recover my boat. Everyone at QM is very friendly and helpful.’

 

Training

‘Generally very satisfied with club training – courses are expensive but a worthwhile investment.’ Thank you for comment, as a not-for-profit business any surplus generated is invested back into the club.

‘Members should be able to book courses and reserve boats via the website, without dependence on phone calls or emails. The current setup is outdated, inefficient and has caused frustration. Same for SMS alerts re whether courses are cancelled or boating is stopped due to weather conditions – at least for those who reserved a boat or booked a course.’  Full Select members can book their courses via the website, if this is you and you are having problems please contact the office. Although we have made many improvements digitally, we have not found an IT solution that can deliver everything we want to do, but we will keep searching.

We have noted and agree ‘T15 kit could really do with some new / better second hand kit’.

‘I would like to see an annual RYA first aid course as I have to go to other locations to keep up to date with my certification. Most other clubs subsidise the course to £50 plus certificate extra.’  Currently, we run 3 First Aid Courses each year, timed to coordinate with our instructor courses.  Please follow the link below for our RYA first Aid courses which start at £100, it is £80 for members and further discounts for our core volunteers.

https://www.queenmary.org.uk/courses/online-shorebased-training/

‘The courses could do with a good survey afterwards regarding how it was taught, how it was run, staff friendliness, staff knowledge etc An online quiz with a QR code to scan at the end of the final day.’ there is a survey sent to the participants after each course.  It had a glitch in 2019 but is working now.

 

 

Other

‘Still a relatively new member, so far very good.’

 ‘You do a magnificent job, your programme of improvements has been well managed and appropriate. Congratulations.’

‘Can you allow wingfoil sailing please!’

‘Christmas lunch – allow more time for members to talk during the lunch; (much) less time for speeches and prize giving – this went on much too long this year’

 ‘Having had a chance to think about RS21s I think they will be a great addition to the club.’

 Saturday club has been one of the best things about my membership – a really friendly and encouraging environment in which to develop my sailing.’

 ‘This can’t get much better than as it is now’

And we will finish with this…  ‘A GREAT CLUB! so pleased I joined…Thanks to all.’

 If having read this you have any comments or other feedback that you would like to give, the door is always open please let us know. Making your experience better often makes life easier for the team, its win-win.

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