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Sydney: How to make an event!

22 March 2012 Richard Hammond

A few of the team from the 100 volunteers

"A few of the team from the 100 volunteers"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,

The Sydney Etchells Fleet, in conjunction with the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, has just completed the running of the 38th International Etchells World Championship.

Much will be written about this event and congratulations to Tom King and the winning, Iron Lotus, team. Rather than write about the actual event, I would like to highlight some of what went into creating it.

The planning and management of the event was split into the following categories:

  • Logistics- (including traffic movement, trailer storage, hull measurement, sail measurement, boat weighing, hardstand, launching and retrieval, moorings, towing and bow numbers)
  • Sponsorship
  • Race Management
  • House and Social (including prizes)
  • Publicity/Website
  • Registration
  • Budgets and Finance
  • Volunteers

A core committee of some 10 Etchells Fleet members managed each of these areas and met regularly over the past 18 months.

Now the first consideration is that we were dealing with a large number of Authorities. We had to have approval from, and be bound by, the rules of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), International Etchells Governors Council (IGC), Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS), Maritime NSW, North Sydney Council (NSC), and Sydney Ports Authority. Some of these were very helpful, whereas others just seemed to put obstacles in the way.

After ISAF, the second consideration is the International Etchells Rules and Guidelines. These need constant reference at all stages of planning - in this regard the Sydney Fleet was fortunate to have continuous access to the Chairman of Governors.

Next is the Club hosting the event. The RSYS is in the State of NSW, and as such, operates all racing under an 'Aquatic Licence' from Maritime NSW. The rules here govern such issues as the allowed racing area, safety equipment, risk management plans and support vessel requirements.

In regards to logistics, there is another set of Authorities to deal with. These include Local Government Councils, as pertains to boat and trailer movements, as well as traffic management. Our plans to have a second site for launching and retrieval of boats and trailers were scuttled at the last minute. Not only was there to be a considerable cost, but with 10 days to go, we were required to present a detailed traffic management plan - in accordance with the NSW State Roads and Traffic Authority Format- and to provide full time, qualified Traffic Management personnel. All of this, so that we could allow some five to seven boats and trailers to have access to the Legacy Marine launching site on the other side of the Harbour!

Logistics planning was undertaken more than 12 months out from the event. The venue at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron is certainly a magnificent location, but posed some limitations. The Club is located at Kirribilli, which is very close to the CBD and happens to be one of the highest density suburbs in Sydney. Parking, storage of Etchells trailers and traffic movement were major considerations. The hardstand, the mooring area and parking at RSYS are considerable. However, when it comes to moving and housing 74 Etchells, trailers and trolleys, weighing boats and measuring five sails for each of the competing yachts, space becomes very limited, rather quickly. Just before the Worlds, the Pittwater Fleet, who were conducting the Australian Championships, provided major assistance in organising the measurement, weighing and equipment checks for something like 40 of the competing boats. We are also very grateful for the assistance provided by North Sydney Council, the Sydney Flying Squadron and Sydney Harbour Ferries.

The search for sponsorship began around two years ago and in these times, we were very fortunate to have several very keys sponsors, in the end. It was interesting that it was only as the actual event approached, that Sponsors realised the potential value in being associated with it.

For those hosting future events, the Sydney Fleet has some excellent photos and video footage from this regatta. This can be made available and used to show what Etchells are all about to potential sponsors. The feedback from the sponsors involved, is that they got a lot more out of the event than they ever expected.

Race management starts with producing the Notice of Race, includes the development of the Sailing Instructions, the appointment of an International Jury and most importantly, appointing a highly skilled Race Management Team. All the parties associated with these tasks did an outstanding job.

Running of the House and social side depends very much on the professionals within the Club working within the inevitable budget constraints. In this regard, the Committee had great support from the Club Management and Staff.

When it comes to finances, it may not obvious to all, but staging of a World Championship is actually a very costly affair. The need to sail in open water that was capable of handling fair racing for 74 boats, meant a long trip to the race area. This adds to costs of staging the racing. Whilst the bulk of the income comes from race entry fees, these are still heavily subsidised by sponsorship and by the Fleet hosting the event. The Sydney Fleet had built up a reserve to allow for staging the event and will be drawing on these reserves.

One of the most rewarding and pleasing aspects of the planning, was the ability to recruit over 100 volunteers from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Sydney Etchells Fleet communities, without whom the Event simply could not have taken place.

We trust that the event has been enjoyable not only for Competitors, but also for those who so generously volunteered their time and effort.

Richard Hammond
Sydney Fleet Captain

RSYS Pond lined with Etchells

"RSYS Pond lined with Etchells"

Photo by:
Kylie Wilson,


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