The introduction of a new world-class rally management system and a renewed focus on support for human resources within island motor sport were among the headline items at the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) recent annual general meeting.
Addressing the membership at the Barbados Clay Target Shooting Association (BCTSA) Clubhouse at Searles, Christ Church, chairman Mark Hamilton described them as “critical components for 2019”, as he and the Committee of Management continued their work to ensure a sustainable future for the Club.
Club public relations officer Neil Barnard gave a presentation on the workings of the Rally Safe system, developed in Australia and deployed on all WRC events. It provides a comprehensive rally management system, with live timing and vehicle tracking. Ahead of this, Hamilton said: “The current timing gear has been around for some time and, although still functional, is no longer produced. Replacement parts are not available and we are reliant on one supplier to rent additional gear for our larger events. The new equipment will immediately bring an element of automation, heightened accuracy, improved communication and safety and, in the future, some possible commercial opportunities.”
Hamilton described the issue of improving the support for the HR elements of motor sport, particularly the many volunteers, as “a much more difficult nut to crack, but equally critical to the club’s future.
“Plans for a Marshals Team Reward Programme to be launched at last year’s early-season mass training session did not come to fruition. As Hamilton explained: “We came to the realisation that the financial backing for this was not achievable long-term, although the training itself was carried out very successfully.
“We have seen a fall-off in experienced marshal participation, and a decline in new marshal recruitment. Needless to say, this is not a desirable situation. Despite considerable time being spent on the subject by some of the CoM, we simply have not come up with what we consider to be an equitable fix. I am of the view that the RallySafe equipment will bring a level of automation to the environment resulting in some reduction of dependency on marshals in some areas, but this will not fix our situation completely. This issue will continue to occupy the CoM’s time,” he said.
Members also voted on a number of revised roles on the CoM, continuing the gradual replacement of the old guard within the management structure, which started in 2016. Following last year’s changes, in which long-standing CoM members Roger Hill and Roger Sergeant were replaced by Rhett Watson and Barry Mayers, Geoff Noel leaves his position as vice-chairman – he becomes a trustee, as John Sealy stands down – to be replaced by current competition secretary Neil Corbin. As other CoM members transition to new roles, newcomer Ben Norris joins as equipment Officer.
Hamilton said: “Geoff Noel’s contribution to the CoM spans some 15 years, in various capacities including his current posts as vice-chairman, club secretary and chairman, providing measured, insightful and positive contributions to whatever the club was undertaking. We look forward to his continued contributions in his new capacity as a trustee, providing the CoM with support and guidance in the future.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank John Sealy for his invaluable contribution to the club, most recently as a trustee, certainly in more capacities than I have fingers, and for more years than I have been on this earth. He first came on to the CoM in 1962, some 57 years ago . . . let’s just pause and think about that for a moment! Words do not really do that type of commitment justice. Even so, thank you, John.”
Reporting on the 2018 season, Hamilton said: “Last year was, by any measure, a successful one for the club, both financially, on which our treasurer will report shortly, and competitively. All of the club’s partnership contracts that were due for renewal have been extended through to 2021; therefore we remain on solid ground in the short term. We ran efficient events for the most part and remain the benchmark by which others are measured in motor sport, as well as in many other sporting disciplines.
“Administratively, the changes to club operations have integrated seamlessly, with positive results. The acquisition of Motorsport Services, after its first full year of operation, has been a complete success, both financially and operationally. It is no doubt a component that will continue to add value this year and beyond. Keeping with this administrative theme, the services supplied by Socialsense Inc. were important to the success of the non-competitive parts of the Club’s ‘in-the-field’ operations, particularly those directly attached to King of the Hill and Rally Barbados.”
Hamilton also outlined the work done behind the scenes following last year’s accident during Sol Rally Barbados: “This brought the reality of a major incident to the forefront and highlighted the challenges involved at many different levels. As a result the club and the BMF have been working hard in three areas: insurance; the transition from on-island to off-island major medical care and a co-ordinated approach post-incident, so that any future response – God forbid – will benefit from the knowledge gained through this experience. This information will be shared shortly via a BMF mass meeting. Thankfully, the competitors involved are recovering quite well considering the extent of their injuries and I am sure I speak on everyone’s behalf in wishing them a full recovery.”