Preparing a World Championships in 17 Easy Steps
by Asbjorn Johnsen (Chairman of the 2006 World Championships in Norway)
At our AGM 2004 I took on the task to chair the committee for 2005 Worlds. To me it was essential to have the early commitment of fleet members for each of the key regatta roles. Also, from day one I had a backup to everybody involved, including my self. And of course, I had already made certain that our local sailing club, the Tonsberg Seilforening (TS) was willing to host the world’s at Fjaerholmen.
We began our organizing work 16 months ahead of the regatta, with a core group of ten persons discussing all matters, and making decisions about all aspects of the event. During this phase of the planning the most important components were good waffles and good coffee – without them, who know’s where we would have ended up.
We aimed at having one meeting every month till summer 2005. During spring and summer 2004 we had three meetings in order to agree on the main frame for the regatta. For many reasons we adopted a simple plan for the event, with only one major social event. The program matched what we though we could implement and what we thought would be the most cost effective.
Notice of Race
With the rigorous fleet-run qualifiers determining entries, the Notice of Race for an IOD World Championship is not as critical as it would be for a typical “open” regatta. However, we still wanted to publish the NOR a year before the event,(ISAF regulation), So the NOR was our first item to have finished and distributed. We sent the Notice of Race to the world class to distribute, and also tried to send it directly to each fleet or skipper , as I knew the list to be. NOR, together with a list showing regatta officers, must also be sent to ISAF.
Sailing Instructions are something you work on, think through a few times, let different people look into it, and ask for comments from everybody. You should also include the judges in the review process. The IOD World Championship has had a great set of sailing Instructions for years, so we had a good model to start from. In addition there is a great section in the RRS on writing Sailing Instructions.
Boats were always on the list of high priority items. We started talking about the Worlds years before the event so that our boat owners would always keep it in their minds, world’s is coming. During the summer I had secured enough boats to invite 14 teams. The Swedish fleet was willing to come up with 4 boats. I followed up during winter and tried to get hold of two more boats, to be able to invite additional teams, but it didn’t work out. Jan Petter Roed was willing to by a number of sails for the regatta. This helped a lot in order to get the boats as good and even as possible.
At an early stage we had four judges lined up, but still got some problems. In the IOD community I think we are very lucky to have so many dedicated people to rely on. At last I got hold of Tom Allen’s address, and we had a yes, I am coming. To have an international jury, you must have three international judges (majority number) from different countries. This isn’t always easy to accomplish so start this part of the process early.
Martin Rygh knows “everybody” around sailing and TS. He soon had a list of hosts to accommodate most of our visitors. Esben Glad helped out with this, and together they
came up with a lot of good housing for the event. I know they put a lot of last minute planning on how to place people together, thinking of teams and transportation. We also wanted to have a list of addresses and telephone numbers available to all, it is a struggle to foreigners to find out “what number do I call to give this message?”.
Boats and technical matters took a lot of time, both to plan and later on, to handle. I was lucky to have someone like Hans Petter to take care of this task, and during winter and spring things came into place. He quickly made an inventory of the boats and determined what they needed to be ready for international competion — new sails, new masts and booms, new and spare spinnaker booms, etc…. The mains, if not all new, they were all good. Spinnakers were a bit uneven but OK. Lars Berntson from Tjorn Yachtservice was our backup here. He is a professional boatbuilder, knowing most everything there is to know about repairs. In the end, everybody helped out preparing boats the last week or two. Like always, at the end you find that things could have been done better, but as a whole, I believe we managed to end up fairly OK.
Economy is always an issue. Our fleet had some money, enough to handle early expenses. We got a guaranty from Jan Petter Roed, allowing us to buy the number of sails we needed. For the rest of our expenses, we timed all buying activity to last minute, in order to have the money from you competitors available. Every single activity was priced, placed at some account for coverage, and calculated into cost. Question mark here was, who will take the cost, skipper or others. Beside sail purchase we had no sponsors. We have not finished our books at this time, but it looks as we might break even.
The social aspect was carefully considered; what should we do, and what shouldn’t we? Opening party and prizegiving party, yes. But what in between? We landed on one evening with barbeque. Beside this we also wanted everybody to have the opportunity to stay on at Fjaerholmen every evening if they wanted to, with access to bar and something to eat. I hope this worked out fine.
Logo for the event was decided by the group, having some alternatives presented by Tina Ohre Roed. She also had the layout of the brochure. We wanted all the information needed for the event to be presented in our brochure, together with a few greetings. At an early stage we had decided on who was responsible for the different items to go into the brochure. If you want to have some items to sell during the regatta, make early decisions on how to handle this and what items to include. Internet orders, early orders, or selling off the table.
The web site was up and running at an early stage, but like so many times before, information was posted a little late and not enough. This really is something to be aware of, depending on what you want to achieve from having the web site.
If you don’t cover every kind of information on the web site, be prepared to stay put by the computer, answering questions, at least the last couple of weeks before the event. One thing I tried, was to get the e-mail address of all skippers, put them together in a group, and by that make it easier to pass on answers or generally distribute information. During the actual week of racing; after day two we ended up with results, with pictures and a short comment about racing. To those interested people staying home, from all fleets, this is not all they want. We really have a challenge around this. From mail I got when results were missing, I know that quite a few are looking for, and demanding, this information.
Prizes are sometimes hard to decide on what to do about. This time we wanted to have fairly simple prizes, reflecting somehow Norway, and add medals to top three. Medals given were gold- and silver-plated.
We cut time for the event by one day, knowing we didn’t take much of a change at doing so. Actually I was pretty certain we could have cut another day. I don’t know the reaction to this line of development for future world’s, but I guess, traveling far and seeing new places, you do not want to stay for to short a period. Again, some might want to have sailing finished in three days, and be home again. I believe there is to many aspects to this to ever be able to balance to everybody’s satisfaction. More freedom to number of races and length of race could have some impact on this.
I have not mentioned the races so far. Part of our plan was to host this event later on in summer, than last time (’95). Last part of July seemed to be the best choice. Having Tonsberg Seilforening (TS) and these waters at our disposal, I never was worried about what actually is important, the sailing. We had to be completely out of luck if we should experience a miss. As it happened, all races were sailed according to plan.
It is important that you make things happen, get things done in the months ahead of the event. Don’t let it all wait till last week. The last two months we didn’t have any meetings. I called on everybody every so often, pushing on all the different issues.