As you are all aware due to the on-going and complex restrictions around the COVID-19 pandemic the board of Ski Racing Australia has decided to further delay the upcoming racing season until July 1, 2021.
I can assure you that this was an extremely tough decision to make . Although the Board has been working to get the sport back on the water as soon as possible, there are a number of factors that have prevented this from becoming a reality. The SRA board have maintained regular conversations with Clubs, Event Organisers and most importantly members and there is no doubt we face a declining membership (like most sports) as individuals and families feel the effects of this COVID year, particularly Victorians who are still doing it tough. Unfortunately, the increased health protocols that have been imposed by the various Health and Police departments on all organised events require that event organisers be responsible for enforcing compliance with all Covid health protocols not only for participants and members, but also for spectators. These restrictions place a severe financial and resourcing burden on our Clubs and an onerous burden on volunteers who are already stretched managing event requirements in a normal season.
Recently we reached out to members and offered a “Social 100” membership and the option to donate to the Safety and newly formed Race Committee. This membership was a way to keep SRA “afloat” whilst there was no racing and assist in re-launching the extremely important work of the Safety Committee, most notably head and neck restraint testing. It is disappointing to report that only five individuals contributed to the Committee fund.
There is no doubt, as mentioned earlier, that these are unprecedented times so the board of SRA sincerely hope that by pushing the start of the season back to the usual July/August kick-off that we can all re-group, leave these COVID-influenced times behind us and start the season in a much better place and raring to go again.
As you have been advised in our recent correspondence with you, SRA currently faces serious financial challenges.
You might remember that SRA’s racing insurance was increased last season by more than 40% to over $1 million and it was necessary this year to reduce the number of events in an effort to bring this significant cost down. Unfortunately, with just 81 $100 social member renewals and limited cash reserves, SRA could not go ahead and place the insurance package that had been negotiated. This means that there is currently no SRA insurance for any racing.
SRA understands that some Clubs and members are considering running non-SRA sanctioned (“black”) races. Whilst SRA cannot stop members participating in these, you should be aware that there is no SRA insurance in place for any of these events and you will not be covered by SRA’s insurance in the event or any incident or injury. This means that you will need to make your own insurance arrangements or check with the organiser about what insurance, if any, they may have arranged.
Over the coming months, the SRA Board will be engaging with clubs and their members to discuss initiatives to identify alternative sources of revenue for our sport. Ultimately however, the sport and SRA will not survive without your support, and the support of our other members.
If you have renewed your membership already, thank-you! The Social “100” membership will be extended to June 30, 2021. This token amount will help to keep SRA going in the background as SRA still needs to be “open for business” even in the absence of racing, before full membership renewals go out at the usual time next year.
Finally, as there was an overwhelming majority support the new Constitution at our AGM in December and a new board and Chair was appointed as a result it’s timely to update you all on future appointments to the board. As you know, SRA advertised for the Independent Chair role and successfully recruited Rowena McNally to the Independent Chair role. The SRA board intends to recruit further independent additions to the board, but this has not been the priority to date. With the experience of the new Chair, we have conducted a governance review and the Board will commence the recruitment of independent members when we are through our current difficulties and it is practical to do so.
In the meantime, the Board’s focus for 2020 will continue to be on working with the Clubs, our members and stakeholders to ensure the viability SRA and the sport of ski-racing, with the Safety Committee and Racing Committee toiling away on some of the important “behind the scenes” work that keeps the sport safe and competitive.
In closing, please understand this has been a tough 6 months for the sporting sector. We are certainly not the only sport to “hibernate” for a while and re-think the best way to get racing again and we sincerely hope that by postponing the season now that we are all in a much better place mid next year to kick off a full and successful 2021/2022 season.
We need your support to do this and I encourage all of you who have not already done so, to join SRA as a “social” member, and if you can, to make a donation to support SRA’s work through the Safety and Racing Committees.
Yours in Ski Racing,