Nick Thompson recently won the Laser Worlds and said that this was the best event he has ever attended. Everyone who Pam and I talked with agreed, and what made it even more remarkable is that it was actually four Worlds held back-to-back. The organizers handled everything from a life-threatening medical emergency to cooling the hot pavement for tired barefoot sailors. Linda, Dan, Andy, and their team did a superb job and have shared how they did it and what they learned. The things that Pam and I feel made things extra special we've highlighted in green.
By Linda Green and Andy Barrow
· No egos. Everyone pitches in when needed.
· Flexibility. Listen to feedback and make changes as necessary. "No" is okay, but openly explore all options first.
· Understand that ILCA's documents are negotiable. They will work with you, but know that they are also negotiating!
· Organizing committee members should be accessible to competitors and race committee.
· Charter support personnel should be immediately reach-able during race days.
· Having a floating "Chief Troubleshooter" is a great way to unload the event chair and identify a go-to person for issues and support. Choose him/her wisely!
· Know the strengths and weaknesses of your team and be willing to make adjustments.
· Very few volunteers are able to,or willing to commit to the entire series of events. Recognize that and plan on replacements.
· Overly zealous volunteers can burn out quickly. Feed them, hydrate them, appreciate them and tell them that often.
· Keep volunteer commitments to small segments of time to avoid burn out.
· Parking competitor boats close to launching helps everyone.
· It is not necessary to give everyone a designated spot for their boat. They will self-organize.
· Put wash-down hoses far away from the launch area. Otherwise they clog up the launch/recovery area when they stop to wash down.
· Having the accommodation on the same property is a win-win-win. Organizers save money on transportation, competitors like the extra time it gives them, and the host resort loves it and will give you bonuses for the business.
· Having kids help with launching is one of the biggest helps to competitors and the race committee. Launches go smoothly and trollies are organized after launch.
· Outsource when possible. Use a destination management company for things like airport transport. Pass registration information directly to them - don't hold and forward. Same for the hotel.
· Keeping the same experienced race committee team throughout the event was a huge help and contributed to our success.
· Jeff Martin's gas horn system worked very well. Loud horns are very important. Cannons don't work as well.
· Using What-App to communicate between race committee members (and scoring office) was a huge success. Scoring was done as competitors were coming off the water, which allowed them to get protests and scoring inquiries submitted in a timely fashion.
· Understand the limitations of your infrastructure (in our case, the ramp) and have a clear plan for dealing with it. Change the plan as feedback comes in.
· Make sure medical support is close, and you know what you are going to do in the event of an emergency.
· Make sure medical support exists for little things (scrapes, bumps, cuts, etc.)
· A flexible web site system that can be quickly changed is very useful. You need to be able to submit scoring for immediate publishing.
· We added the registration spreadsheet to a database the allowed us to quickly create the badges for competitors, as well as the files for upload to the scoring system.
· High speed internet is critical for the press - they will be uploading lots of video files.
· Track web site traffic! It will help in your discussions with your sponsors when they ask if they got the exposure you promised.
· Sailwave scoring system works fine. You don't have to use the ILCA recommended system (it's out of date now anyway). We can share our scoring files and processes.
· Social media needs to be managed at the venue, not from a distant, outside service provider.
· Make sure the committee boat is well stocked with spares and tools.
· Keep at least one support boat in reserve for backup and for running people and materials out to race area.
· Pin and Signal boats don't have to be keelboats. It's negotiable.
· Pin and signal boats need LOTS of anchor rope (at least 150 meters for the pin boat) and good anchors.
· Keep an email list (or use a newsletter system) to allow email communication with all competitors and all volunteers.
· The official bulletin board needs to be large, and doesn't need to be locked (but it does need to be covered).
· Daily weather forecasts are useful to the race committee and competitors.
Details (they matter)
· Using badges for identification of on-the-water status is much faster and easier than sign-in/sign-out, but it is more expensive.
· Playing music during launch changes the whole attitude of the people who are launching boats.
· With our hot weather, it was important to keep the ramp wet (to cool it) and to give out that last bottle of cold water.
· Take care of the athletes. They are priority #1. Feed them, hydrate them, give them space to gather.
· Keep opening ceremonies simple and fun; keep closing ceremonies simpler and more fun. The same applies to the mid-week social.
Things we wish we could've done
· Twitter from the water, including mark-rounding and other interest items.
· Results on a monitor, rather than printed. Printing takes time and wastes a huge amount of paper.
· Set up a weather station near the racing area.
· This is a business and your relationship with local sponsors should be the same as any other sponsor.
· Communicate with your sponsors. Let them know how their product/service is being advertised.