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A Day in the Life of a Regatta Volunteer

Regatta manager Karen (center) receives a ‘Thank You’ prize from Rosie Burr for all her hard work. Photo: Tim Wright / courtesy of Grenada Sailing Week
Regatta manager Karen (center) receives a ‘Thank You’ prize from Rosie Burr for all her hard work. Photo: Tim Wright / courtesy of Grenada Sailing Week

It’s the second race day of the regatta. I crawl out of bed at an ungodly hour, my body still heavy with sleep. I am part of the organising committee for Island Water World Grenada Sailing Week 2018. Yesterday was a long day starting with opening (and organising) the ‘new’ office, organizing the volunteer crew, followed by registration and skippers’ briefing in the afternoon and the first night’s party.  It’s another blustery day – the weather hasn’t been co-operating – it’s wet and windy, which certainly makes for challenging racing. I jump in my dinghy with a change of clothes (I’m about to get soaked), meet other volunteers ashore and drive to Secret Harbour Marina, our host venue for the first four days of the regatta.

Crews are milling about the restaurant area freshly showered and grabbing breakfast before heading out for the first races. I don’t envy them as the skies darken but they look like they are having fun as they talk strategy amongst themselves. I take a deep breath and brace myself for the hour of madness that is about to follow as I rush about provisioning the committee, safety and mark boats with sandwiches, drinks and ice for the coming day. There are the usual requests for more of this or less of that. The bread is too hard or the ice is melting! I just smile and say, “I’ll see what I can do.” By 8.30am the chaos is over and boats are heading out to lay the marks or get in position.

I look like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards and could do with another shower.

For our office, we have commandeered one of the rental cottages belonging to the marina and we share it with the Chief Juror, David, who is staying there. I thought he might be put out by the invasion of privacy but it turns out David is pretty used to this kind of setup and has a sense of humour which entertains us all.  We re-group, grabbing a cup of coffee as Karen, the regatta manager, myself and Marie-Anne – another volunteer, talk about what we are doing for the rest of the day. David is pottering around organising what he needs for the protest table and making himself breakfast.  Karen dashes out to try and find an alternative to the not so great internet that obviously doesn’t like the weather.

Sorting the coveted skippers’ bags into classes to give out to the racers. Photo: Tim Wright / courtesy of Grenada Sailing Week
Sorting the coveted skippers’ bags into classes to give out to the racers. Photo: Tim Wright / courtesy of Grenada Sailing Week

Marie-Anne and I start to gather the prizes for tonight’s prize giving. Each race day has a different sponsor, today is Mount Gay Race Day. Mount Gay has provided all sorts of goodies for us to present that evening for first, second and third places. But as we are doing this I find I’m short on one bottle of the precious XO rum and spend ages hunting, hoping I hadn’t left it in the storage office. After ten minutes of me tearing the place apart, David, ever the comedian, pipes up to suggest that maybe someone drank it. I think he is cracking another of his jokes but as Marie-Anne says in her quiet French accent, “Rosie – I think he is not joking!” David disappears into his room and comes out with a half-empty bottle of the amber liquid. To be fair to David we do not believe he was the instigator, but he will not reveal any names. Though Karen and I both know who it is straight away and start to rib the group of troublemakers. I think the culprits feel bad, but take the ribbing we give them well.

My role changes in the afternoon to that of ‘Protest Secretary’ – something I haven’t done before. But as David says, “It’s not rocket science.” we run through the forms that need filling out, and what needs to be logged or posted on the notice board. I am quite happy to be sat at the desk after all the running about earlier in the day.

As boats return to the marina, two protests come in but both ultimately are withdrawn. Phew!

The handsome Mount Gay trophies ready to be presented to the winners. Photo: Tim Wright / courtesy of Grenada Sailing Week
The handsome Mount Gay trophies ready to be presented to the winners. Photo: Tim Wright / courtesy of Grenada Sailing Week

Results are in, protest time is over and crews are hanging around the notice board trying to find out how they have fared in the day’s races. The committee boats are in and we take a break, hanging out on the cottage balcony, the crew regaling stories of tangled boats and marks or various other incidents from out on the water.

Then it’s back to work – the beginning of the day and the end of the day are the always the busiest. The prizes need to be shuttled from the safe keeping of the office to the presentation area and arranged nicely in first, second and thirds. But once again it’s raining, Tracy, another volunteer, and I dash backwards and forwards carting cases of rum and huge boxes of prizes, getting totally soaked. The bar is abuzz. Over 40 boats have raced, bringing together over 350 crew from countries near and far. Everyone is waiting to start prize giving, but the MC isn’t getting out of his car until the rain has stopped – Tracy and I look at each other in sodden disbelief. We are finally graced with his presence, prizes are awarded and the party eventually starts.

Phew, what fun … tomorrow is another day.

 

Rosie and her husband Sim Hoggarth have been cruising the Caribbean and North America full time for the past twelve years aboard Wandering Star. Follow their travels at: www.yachtwanderingstar.com

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