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Volunteering at BYC – You make a club by what you give

Home / General / Volunteering at BYC – You make a club by what you give
Volunteering at BYC – You make a club by what you give

Just over a century ago a group of generous and community minded Bangor individuals came together to set up a sailing club for the borough’s water sports lovers. Members’ generous contributions since then have propelled the club into becoming a vibrant hub for socialising, water sports and also, giving back to the wider Bangor community.

Although we now have two paid office staff and a paid part-time groundsman the club is otherwise powered by the work of an army of volunteers. Without this volunteer army the club would either cease to exist, or membership fees would need to increase significantly to cover the very real cost of hiring enough people to do the work done by our volunteers.

So to paraphrase the words of a certain US president, we ask you not only to ‘ask what your club can do for you (plenty) – ask what you can do for your club.’

What volunteering can do for you

  • Build your social network.
  • Enrich your resumé.
  • Add to a Duke of Edinburgh qualification or college application personal statement.
  • Have some craic!
  • Release feel-good endorphins and help you live longer.
  • Get you an invitation to the annual Volunteers Thank you Evening.
  • Make a club that you want to be a member of.


Volunteers Dinner
The Annual Volunteer Evening – A show of appreciation to the club’s hardworking volunteers

What you can do for your club

30+ ways in which you can help out

You’ll probably be surprised to learn about the variety of jobs taken on by volunteer members – from mowing the lawn to starting races at regattas. There is a role for everyone whether you like the water or hate it, whether you have just half a day a year to contribute, or whether you can give a few hours each month. Please read through the list below and consider what you can do for your club.

1. Opportunities for those with sailing skills

BYC training volunteering opportunities
BYC training volunteering opportunities

Training support

Support is needed for cadet and junior sailing/boating and adult improvers. Dolphin and Sharks social sailing on Friday nights through the summer and Saturday Junior Racing for those with RYA Level 3 and above. Adult Improvers on Wednesday evenings in the summer and Saturday afternoons in the Winter.

Become an instructor

If you are a competent sailor or powerboater, why not consider becoming an instructor? The sailing instructor journey starts as an Assistant Instructor, a local qualification, before attending an RYA Dinghy Instructor Course.

Sailing in the community

Through the Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation’s ‘Buoyed-Up’ scheme children from the Borough are invited to spend a week at the club every summer to experience a range of watersports. Competent sailors or instructors are needed to support this opportunity.

2. Opportunities for those who like the water but don’t want to/can’t sail

BYC Rescue squad photos
The rescue squad provides safety cover for dinghy racing and other club events such as swimming and windsurfing.


BYC currently operates a fleet of five rescue boats. We use these to provide safety cover for dinghy racing at the club and other club run or hosted events such as windsurfing and swimming. When in service each rescue boat needs a crew of at least two club members holding RYA Powerboat Level 2 as a minimum qualification. A lot of our rescue volunteers also hold RYA Safety Boat, First Aid and have some sailing experience in the past. We aim to pair an experienced helm with crew members who are learning and gain experience as rescue crew. Anyone interested in helping out with rescue can come along as an additional crew member to get a taster. No experience or qualifications are needed to get started, just warm, waterproof clothes. If you enjoy being on the water but don’t fancy sailing, being in rescue may be just what you are looking for!

Rescue boat maintenance

From weekly fueling to maintaining the boats and engines, this team are the mainstay supporting most club activities; without rescue boats we have no sailing, swimming, paddle boarding or regattas.

Mark laying

Mark layers – the people who accurately position the marks for races. This needs 2-3 people per RIB, usually with one person having done the locally delivered mark laying course. Other crew are required to lay and lift the marks, which takes a little effort. The team is used for all racing events that don’t use the standard club marks and courses, which every summer can range from a regional to international event.

Volunteers are also required for the twice-yearly club mark maintenance. All BYC marks are lifted and inspected and maintained, to insure they don’t break or disappear, costing the club about £750 each time we lose one!

Race management (training provided on the job)

Race management
There are roles both on the water and onshore for the race management team

Battery team: Based in the battery hut for club racing. Responsibilities include recording race results, putting the course boards up, displaying the starting flags, and making the start and finish sound signals

Afloat: For club racing (seasonal) as well as championships. Based on the committee boat (which may be a RIB or a yacht), people are needed to operate the flags and sound signals, be time-keepers and recorders. Experienced race officials will provide guidance.

Onshore: Required for the occasional championships to welcome, marshall, register and tally competitors on to and off the water as well as assist with launching and retrieving the sailors on the slips. In addition, a galley team will organise and serve a pasta or sandwich snack for competitors and the rescue teams.

For all bigger watersports events, volunteers manage PR and social media, seek sponsorship, organise prizes and run post-event satisfaction surveys.

Club swimming

BYC club swimming
Volunteers are needed to help with registration and safety support for club swimming sessions and events

Club swimming is lead by the Swimming Committee (see below). Volunteers are needed for swimmer registration and to provide paddle board/canoe safety support for the April-September Monday night swimming sessions. Volunteers are also needed to support the swimming events such as the popular BYSea swim and the Open House’s Pickie to Pier event. A rescue boat team is needed to lay the buoys for the swimming courses.

3. Opportunities for those with organisational or other skills

Join a management committee

The Shore, Sailing and Executive Committees are confirmed by vote at the December AGM and serve from December to December. Members usually meet monthly and agree actions to move the club forward. If you have skills in any of the fields listed below and want to make a difference, please consider putting your name forward. Sub-committees including the Training Committee, Swimming Committee and the Cadet Committee.

Generally, different members of the committee will take the lead on specific projects depending on their interest and expertise, and work together with other member volunteers to get the job done. The large events will usually be organised by a separate committee – see below.

Executive Committee

The Executive  Committee is led by the Club Commodore and coordinates the strategic management of the club including:

  • Agreement to new members, management of any issues arising with members and application of club rules.
  • Ensure the club meets its statutory and legal obligations in terms of the operation of the facility and bar for all staff and members.
  • Management of club risks and dealing with Health & Safety issues to staff, members, house, grounds and equipment
  • Financial Management of the club, led by the Honorary Treasurer. Agree expenditure, seek Sponsorship and Grants to support club finances. Pay staff and invoices in conjunction with the office team. Liaise with auditors and insurance.
  • Coordinate with all other committees.

Executive includes, Commodore, Rear Commodore Sailing, Rear Commodore Shore, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, Captain, Two Members (representing Swimming and Bar Convenor) and the outgoing Commodore (for 1 year)

Shore Committee

The Shore Committee is led by the Rear Commodore Shore looks after all things shore based:

  • Making sure that our grounds, facilities and assets are in good shape – arranging for things to be maintained/fixed whether through volunteers or contractors and procuring any items needed in conjunction with the office team.
  • Coordinating with the office for health & safety, fire safety and licensing.
  • Managing the storage of everything!
  • Managing the boat park – allocation, liaising with the office for invoicing, stickering and managing boat relocation for events.
  • Making sure the bar is stocked and staffed.
  • Coordinating social activities and managing the social calendar led by the Club Captain.
  • Club PR & marketing.
  • Recruiting and motivating our team of shore volunteers!
Shore committee
Responsibility for looking after the grounds, facilities and social falls under the Shore Committee

Sailing Committee

The Sailing Committee is led by the Rear Commodore Sailing & Watersports looks after all matters afloat:

  • Plans, coordinates and manages water sports events
  • Manages the use of the Safety Boat fleet, maintenance and roster
  • Oversees the club’s stock of training boats, paddle boards, windsurf boards, canoes and kayaks
  • Marks – plans the twice-yearly maintenance and getting volunteers.
  • Race management – ensures the club has sufficient qualified race officers to deliver our bigger events.
  • Training – the club’s training lead, usually the RTC Principal, coordinates all RYA training delivered at BYC.
  • Events – those organising major events during the season will attend as required.
BYC Sailing committee
BYC Sailing committee looks after all matters afloat – from training through racing to rescue

Training Committee

  • Chief Powerboat Instructor
  • Chief Sailing Instructor
  • Chief Windsurfing Instructor

Cadet Committee

The Cadet Committee looks after all things cadet based which includes:

  • Cadet watersport events, sailing, Dolphins & Sharks, Cadet Regatta, Annual Corinthian Cup Event and including hot chocolate for cold cadets.
  • Cadet social events – Easter egg rolling, painting and hats, Halloween and Christmas events including Santa arriving by rib to give all the kids presents!

Swimming Committee

This committee sits between April and September and oversees Monday night swimming, the annual BYSea swim event, Open House’s Pickie to Pier event and considers any requests which support the development of swimming for our members and local community.

Events committees 

Club events
As well as sailing events, members step up to organise a full range of social events

It takes a committee to organise an event, whether a social event or racing championship. All skills are needed and welcomed

  • Annual Club events:  The BYC Annual Regatta brings a buzz to the club with cadet activities, the sailing regatta, Commodore’s Reception, afternoon tea for participants and entertainment for adults and kids alike. Halloween, Easter and Christmas cadet events including Santa by Rib for young cadets, and the Christmas Eve Raffle and New Year’s Disco for all members

  • Our popular black-tie Charity Dinner Dance in Spring 2023 raised funds for Jodi’s Giants and Action Cancer. If you love organising events – booking entertainment, organising the venue and F&B, tickets (with the help of the office), decor and prizes – then put your name forward for the committee, or even to lead it!

  • Championship events: BYC has built a reputation for excellence in organising championship events and the club is invited to host around 2-3 championships each year.

These championship events raise much-needed funds for the club, raise the club’s profile in the sailing world, give a boost to the local economy (which is a supporting factor when applying for grants) as well as help put Bangor on the map as a sailing and tourism destination.

We are currently planning the 2024 ILCA 6 Youth European Championships and Open European Trophy 2024 which will be a large event with guests from all over Europe. Volunteers are needed now for the organising committee and also, to help out at the event itself.

4. Opportunities for those who just want to help out in some way

If you would like to help ‘as and when’ there are still plenty of roles for you:

Grounds and facilities:

Shore committee
There are always small jobs that need doing around the club – or even on a hillside (tree planting)
  • In the spirit of a community ‘barn raising’, be on the list for the occasional painting, marks maintenance, Christmas decorating, table shifting or grounds clearing party.
  • DIY experts – Do you have DIY skills? Consider putting your name forward to help deal with our list of ‘odd jobs’.
  • Grounds and gardens: From lawn mowing to gardening, we need you.

Events at the club:

Galley team
Volunteers help in the galley and on the BBQ for club events such as the Annual Regatta and the Commodore’s Reception as well as smaller club events
  • Assist with running one or more social events, including cleaning the silver before the Annual prize giving.
  • Organise a small event or activity that is of personal interest such as our Book Club.
  • Be on the list for ‘Galley Team’ who make and serve sandwiches and other edibles at club events.
  • Organise the weekly Wednesday coffee morning.

Administrative jobs:

Provide support for some part of the club’s PR & marketing.

  • News write-ups for The Spectator and other water sports periodicals.
  • Social media updates.
  • Maintenance of articles and content on the club website.

While some of these jobs are busier than others and do require some time and commitment, they are perhaps not as demanding as often thought. The Executive Committee asks that members consider what they want from the club and, if they possibly can, consider putting themselves forward to help out in some way.  Please email the office if you are interested in volunteering and they will arrange for a member of that group to get in touch with you.

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy… when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”

~Author Unknown

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