The January AGM was well attended. With sandwiches and a glass of something “on the house” we plane sailed through official business, heard Commodore and Treasurer reports, were given an outline of 2015 plans, and discussed the Club’s future direction. Topics included training, crewing service, Members’ directory, gatherings on the water, the balance of internal/external speakers, and the Cotswold Club as our continuing principal venue.
Jonathan Smith gave an enthusiastic and colourful presentation on tall ships and the lives of their sailors, including one local man whom he quoted: “Witney is a very quiet place, what a great difference one sees out here in San Francisco, where all is life, pleasure and excitement, to the quiet ways of our country town”. To us modern sailors the rigs and cordage of these topsail schooners, ships, brigantines, barquentines, etc. are awesome. Apparently one, the “Stavros S Niarchos”, is on the market but our Treasurer was unsupportive.
Roger Backhaus then talked with equal enthusiasm about his kind of sailing – on a small wooden boat, which he keeps and sails in the Netherlands. The simple classic unstayed lug yawl rig is better than anything else (he assured us) and the Zeeland waters he sails in perfect for him and for this long-keeled shoal-draft boat. These waters are a largely protected playground, established under the mammoth “Delta Plan” by the Dutch, after the disastrous 1953 flood.