INT - Farewell message Jochem Slikboer, Vice-Chairman RS500 International

Oct. 23, 2020, noon

Looking back at 4 years Chairman

End of 2016 Michiel Geerling wanted to stop as Chairman of the RS500 class and asked me to be his replacement. After a lot of thoughts and meetings the job would be accepted only if the Chairman position would be a shared one with Olivier Beyls. The early mission of the 500’s was to start international racing with friends and as Michiel became an official RS salesman this was handy at the time but also interfering with the job as Chairman for all sailors. Olivier and I wanted the class to grow and to establish a structured foundation that information could be shared evenly and to every individual sailor / member of the RS500 international class. Being part of the RS Association was not helping to grow and that communications were difficult too at the time. We tried to get around like Michiel did, making appointments fly there on our own expenses but it didn’t went well.

Olivier and I knew that we couldn’t do the same like Michiel, we weren’t the same traveling Chairmen and we couldn’t handle the disappointments well when our appointments were cancelled so often. So we decided it was time to make a structured International Class. It meant that we needed a few crucial things to work very well.

  • We need to have an efficient communications platform to connect ALL our RS500 sailors.
  • We need to have a system that pulls en push information about our events, rules and finances.
  • We need to leave RS Association to be a recognised int. class and leave the paid personnel.
  • We need to be a recognised legal entity with a real board, bylaws and rotating boardmembers to keep young, eager to grow and to keep flowing great ideas for great events and development of the class.

So wheels were set in motion and Olivier and I had conversations with stakeholders from every side and kept moving. At the AGM in Weymouth we got our approval to carry on although people don’t always like coming change. That year we made progress, Olivier made website & PEEPL work and we started to have meetings monthly with national Chairmen and were busy getting our information earlier so sailors could see the upcoming calendar events earlier. We made it possible to send information to every sailor in person instead of telling national structures and to ask if they were willing to inform their members. Now we count 187 members in PEEPL and we know that most of them are using the platform frequently to search for information. That’s great news!

Next step was getting an international board to make it easier to divide tasks. So we asked people to join our international board to get to announce them at the AGM in CZ. Also a big thing was changing the rule for crew handling the mainsheet on time for the Worlds2019 but we learnt our lesson well that the paper trail to go through World Sailing is months of work. So sadly it was not in effect on time. To arrange the AGM in Lake Lipno was a real difficult job to get done at the time. The program was super full of fun things for the sailors that there was just a small gap in the timeframe were our AGM was held. Here our board was introduced, Peepl was being discussed. US and Russia joined in and saw the opportunities if you are just singular boats to have a platform were you could get your information, contact details to meet other sailors, organise meetings and invite people to it and find tips &tricks to sail, trim and enjoy our RS500.

That autumn we were working with the five of us, Oscar, Adriana, James, Olivier and I. We divided the tasks so we could do more in the same time. We looked into our next step, being a legal entity so we looked into all things we have to arrange and decided to make it into a Dutch “vereniging” and with a Transferwise bank account. Also we decided to divide all tasks and Olivier was elected Chairman, James secretary, Oscar treasurer, Adriana Promotions and me as Vice Chairman. Now we are really in business. Finally! The pandemic was a really difficult time for a lot of people, but the continuous uncertainty of how rules are changing everywhere, the setback of no worlds at Travemunde, no international sailing every were. And then the trouble of not getting our members to pay the membershipfee, that’s still something that concerns me. If you enjoy sailing international, keep supporting the board which tries to make things happen and gets things done. We need to pay bills and repay loans that keep us running. I ask you kindly to keep supporting the RS500 international Class!

The last thing we wanted was that there is continuously new blood in the board. So it means that, especially me, since I have had a period of nearly 4 years, will make room for new sailors to become a boardmember. And now it's also in the bylaws that every 2 years you need to make room so new people can make a difference and get our RS500 class to grow, help organise more incredible events and make sure every sailor can enjoy sailing at incredible venues!

I enjoyed working with Olivier, this man is a gift to the international Class for all the things he arranged, kept people talking like a true politician. By being Belgian he could make the south and the north of Europe stay in touch. He is well spoken, has good views and is still very modest. We are a good team together and I appreciate the team of 5 we helped to create. I strongly believe this is the way to get our RS500 further than before. The old mission used to get friends to sail on an international level, now it’s more about through sailing international, you can make new friends for life!

On a personal note, thanks to sailing internationally I met the woman of my life, we married, we have two beautiful children and we can sail together! All thanks to the RS500 at an amazing Worlds event in Lago di Como, such a nice atmosphere, pasta after sailing, good crowded Dutch party on that little patio at the club, amazing!

I would like to end my story to say to you, when you are at an international event, talk to everybody, make fun, enjoy sailing and also enjoy the company of each other. The possibility exists that these sailors become friends for life!

Fair winds to you all and we will meet once again on the water!

Jochem Slikboer

International Chairman RS500 2017-2019

International Vice Chairman RS500 2020