IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people CEO charts new course for yacht club by Andrea Kellett

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Wayne Holdsworth sits down at a table at the Mornington Yacht Club overlooking the harbour. It’s a spectacular summer’s day and the club’s new chief executive is preparing to answer questions about himself and his plans during his tenure. It just so happens the club’s Sailability program is in full swing below and it becomes clear very quickly that community programs like this one play a key role in his vision.

Is it correct you were appointed the week before Christmas?

Yes, that’s right, and I started in mid-January.

What is your professional background?

I have spent the last 10 years working in sports administration (management and governance) at a number of state sporting associations including AFL Victoria, the Southern Football Netball League, Motorcycling Victoria and the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (Victoria).

Do you live on the Mornington Peninsula?

Yes, I live in Mornington with my wife and four children. We have lived here for about 10 years.

What are your plans as Mornington Yacht Club CEO?

I want to grow the club’s membership, becoming more inclusive for women and children because the demographics are typically male and I want to change that to a club that’s even more inclusive for families and kids. I want the club to be a lifestyle for people, where this is their second home. I want families to come up here and live their lives here socially. Also, I want to utilise the club to provide community support in areas such as youth suicide, depression and drugs and alcohol, for example.

You want to promote and grow the Children's Learn to Sail and Sailability programs. Tell us a little about that.

The Tackers program is designed to give children an opportunity to sail. There’s no barrier to entry; you don’t have to have a boat. A qualified instructor will take them out and give them experiences they may never have had. These kids are really discovering sailing for the first time. Sailability (at the club since 2004) has about 50-60 participants per session. The purpose is to give people living with a disability an opportunity to experience sailing. It’s an important program for the community.

You mention the importance of volunteers to the club, especially the likes of the Sailability program.

One of the biggest challenges to sporting organisations is finding volunteers. We need to be creative in order to attract volunteers. Do we need more? Yes, absolutely.

How many members do you have?

We have more than 800 members, including people who sail and people who don’t sail but like to enjoy our facilities. We encourage families to come up here.

Partnership and perception are important to you. Tells us a little about that.

I have invited the mayor and ward councillors to come and see me in April. That was one of the first things I did. I want them to witness our Sailability program. We are an organisation that can add value to the community. We are not exclusive. Partnerships are very important.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

I enjoy a bit of running and our kids are into basketball and health and fitness. On weekends I take them to games and tournaments. I’m also the new president of the Moorooduc Junior Football Club. I love cricket and footy. If I was to have an afternoon off, I’d take my boys to a Twenty20 match.

For more on the club, its programs and events, head to morningtonyc.net.au or log on to Facebook /morningtonyachtclub

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