Discontent among RYA's High Performance Managers

Why have three of the six HPMs now resigned, asks Ed Gorman

Wednesday June 6th 2001, Author: Ed Gorman, Location: United Kingdom
Fifteen months after the launch of the Royal Yachting Association's Youth Sailing Initiative sponsored by Volvo, three of the six so-called High Performance Managers (HPM) - the backbone of the scheme - have resigned.

Madforsailing can reveal that the latest departure is that of Titch Blachford, the HPM for the south west, who has left the scheme to join a marketing agency as a senior account executive.

Blachford's decision to quit follows those of Ian Clingan who was the HPM for the eastern region and who has decided to return to sailing in Finns, and Bruce Hebbert, who represented the south east but who has decided to concentrate on his coaching commitments at Seven Oaks school and his role with the national team racing squad.

The resignations are a blow to one of the RYA's most prestigious programmes and its manager Steve Joel who joined the organisation just over a year ago, bringing with him a solid track record in fund raising and sports management, but with no previous experience in sailing.

The Initiative is a bold and exciting venture aimed at identifying and then encouraging young talented sailors across country. Its aim is to ensure that able young sailors do not leave to pursue other sports by offering them a clear path through various junior and youth squads, up to national level and possibly on to the Olympic team.

The HPM has a broad role of liasing with local clubs and individual sailors in their respective regions and to be, in effect, the eyes and ears of the RYA on the ground. Pay is respectable at around £26,000 and the package comes with a Volvo car and free mileage. However it appears none of the above has been enough to persuade half of the original six appointees to stay with the scheme.

All three who have decided to leave have, on the face of it, very plausible reasons for doing so. In general the reasons for their departure seem more to do with the nature of the HPM role - it has turned out to be more of a managerial post than a coaching one - than with, for example, their working relationship with Joel. But somewhere along the line a certain amount of what one close observer termed "disillusionment" seems to have set in with some of the HPMs.

More on page two..........

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