The last minor change to the NSOA Constitution was in 2014, when the possibility of email voting was introduced. Other that that it has remained laregley untouched for decades. The current constitution has become considered unfit for purpose, as successive adminstrations have revised their practises outside its remit in order to keep up with the changing demands and perspectives of governance.

Revising/updating the  NSOA’s constitution has been a long-standing agenda item for successive committees but until now progress has been slow and at times almost non-existent while other priorities prevailed.  However, grateful thanks are due to Lou Bibby and more recently to David Biddle for their work towards bringing this document up to date. David in particular has contributed massively to this essential project’s recent progress.

The principal elements of the proposed changes to the NSOA Constiitution were presented to the 2023 AGM in Weymouth  and  approved unanumously.

The key points are as follow:

The Constitution needs updating in a number of respects. Sailing clubs have become more concerned about the behaviour of their members particularly when it involves abuse in any form. In some cases they have been embarrassed that there is no power to expel or suspend members when they misbehave which has led a lot of them to change their constitutions. NSOA are guests of some of those clubs and the Committee feel that we ought to fall in line and be able to sanction  a n NSOA member who persistently misbehaves.

Committees meetings are  now all held remotely,  on-line, so the geographical issues which applied particularly to Ireland no longer apply. Although it never reached the Constitution the Committee has operated a weighted voting system which is no longer necessary. The Irish have voting rights and should vote members on to the Committee. The suggestion is also that the Committee be reduced in size so that it consists of members who have a particular function. Although the Committee “gives a lead”, decisions increasingly are made by e-vote so the idea that a member represents a particular area or club no longer applies. Obviously the Committee will continue to consult the membership and the Squib fleets

There has been no provision as to what might happen to the NSOA’s funds in the event of a winding up. The Committee felt that the RNLI might be the most appropriate recipient of funds in such an event. The RNLI operate throughout the UK and Ireland.

Particular changes:

  • The objects of the Association are spelled out more fully
  • Provision for Honorary Membership which exists but is not currently in the Constitution
  • Committee size is sligfhtly reduced with two nominated by the Irish Squib Class  No weighted voting system and the Irish are free to elect members in addition to the two nominated members from the Irish association. Maximum continuous term on the Committee of four years
  • Most Class Officers to be elected for two year terms renewable once so a maximum term of four years
  • The Committee will appoint a Class Chief Measurer who will not be on the Committee.
  • Terms of reference are established for the standing SubCommittees
  • Conduct of members is specifically addressed.
  • Conflicts of Interest policy is aligned with the RYA
  • On a winding up, residual funds to go to the RNLI There is a sweep up provision of a charity or charities with similar sporting objectives.