Sailing Regattas

Sailing regattas are huge events, with spectators and competitors arriving by car and boat from miles around. If not carefully organized, things can go horribly wrong. Here are some tips for organizing a sailing regatta:

Regatta Operations - Dock Side
  • Responsibility - A regatta is at your club because you want it. Before accepting responsibility for the fun & safety of competitors, be sure that your organization has the time & resources to effectively organize & host the event. You could have between 500 & 1200 visitors wandering around your club. Can you accommodate them? Dock space, kitchen capacity, bar capacity, seating capacity, cold storage for alcohol & food, activity plans when racing is frustrated by weather, emergency services, staffing, security, etc. are all issues fundamental to your planning.
  • Organization - The organization committee needs to be chaired by someone with both regatta & special event experience. Don't let the committee operate in a water tight compartment separate from club management. The committee needs to share information with the club manager, grounds crew, dock crew, food & beverage manager & security staff. If the club manager has not previously organized a regatta the committee may need to tactfully work through the manager to meet with his more experienced staff.

  • Oversight - Months before the regatta, prepare check lists of all activities. Assign responsibility for all of them with a layer of oversight. If someone is supposed to book a band, someone else checks that it was actually done. If a deposit is supposed to be paid, a financial person makes sure that it was paid: A system of cross-checks.

  • Coordination of Dock Activities - Supervise docking, gas pumps and marine supplies with an experienced, full-time dock master who cannot be challenged. Competing authority figures on the docks leads to mixed messages, confusion & accidents.

  • Late Registration - Late registration disrupts event planning by raising concerns that preliminary budgets & attendance forecasts will not be met. Encourage early registration with financial incentives & penalties, early marketing, etc. (Our event planning team will send you more information about regatta marketing upon request).
  • Meal Plans - It is impossible to predict food & beverage needs if boaters are permitted to buy meal tickets 5 minutes before dinner. If boaters will be permitted to buy meals at the last minute, then adequate reserves must be on hand.

  • Meal Tickets & Hand Stamps - No ticket means no meal. Hand stamps should be available for seconds, if any become available. However, don't promise seconds, in case more boaters than expected show up for firsts.

  • Meal Hours - If awards are presented immediately after the race, i.e. before dinner, then dinner needs to be scheduled to run after the awards. It is almost impossible to persuade boaters to show up during a certain time if they are allowed to arrive any time & still expect to be served.

  • BBQ Snacks on the Docks - If the budget will permit, cook & give away hot dogs on or near the dock from 11:00 a.m. until dinner time.

  • Breakfast - If budget permits, give away a Continental breakfast. If the breakfast cannot be free, sell a hearty one. Sailors need their energy to stay alert and strong on the waters, and cholesterol is not of great concern.

  • Garbage - This task needs a dedicated staff doing nothing else from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. Focus on recycling. You will need at least forty 50 gal garbage cans, a Gator or small pick up truck with 4' high sides, 1500 garbage bags, and dumpsters. Plan for all the garbage that the boaters will bring to the event.

  • Bar - Refrigerated beer trailers with interconnected kegs. Adequate serving and back bar staff. Pitchers by the dozen, 14 & 20 oz. plastic cups by the thousands. All are necessary components of a regatta bar. Plan for the total beer consumption based on the number of drinks per person per day.

  • Electrical power - You will require 400 amps of 120 volts plus 100 amps of 220 volts for the event. At least 90 days before the regatta, coordinate with suppliers, including bands, on what power is needed & where.

  • Sponsors - Financial & alcohol sponsors need to be protected at the bar from give-away brewers & distillers. This requires coordination between the organizing committee & the club food & beverage manager. Financial sponsors who promote goods or services need adequate space, visibility & traffic to recover their sponsorship investment.

  • Supplier contracts - If attendance numbers, weather, politics at the border, etc. require changes to supplier contracts, then deal fairly with suppliers affected by these changes. Otherwise, they won't be back when you need them.

  • Manpower - Calculate your labour requirements to run the various components of the event. Then, add 30% for relief, no shows, emergencies, etc.

  • Cash sales - No cash sales of food & beverage should be permitted anywhere on the grounds. All purchases of food & beverage should be made via tickets. Ticket booths should be sprinkled near high traffic areas.

  • Cooling stations - 10 x 10 tented mist stations near the docks and beverage areas can make hot spectators feel much better. Give away cold distilled water for water bottle refills. (5 gal. jugs sitting in ice-filled pop tubs).

  • Security - You are running a high attendance, alcohol related, on-the-water event. If you think no security staff or life guards are required, think again.

  • First aid - St. John ambulance. You are running a high attendance, alcohol related, on-the-water event. If you think no stand-by medical staff is required, think again.

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    Monday, September 17, 2012