The magic that happens – the race fairies you never really see
I love the King Island race, having done it many times on my own and on friends boats. Gee it’s a lot of work to get the boat to a start line isn’t it ? Provisioning, fuel, safety gear, audits, repairs, compliance paperwork, crew details. How good is it to start a race and better still to finish one. Arriving at King Island you pick up a mooring, get picked up by the inflatable, head to the bar for a drink, grab a steak then stand around the fire chatting till all hours and listen to the band. You hang around for presso and then head home.
This year, helping out as part of the ORCV Race Management team what a different perspective I got. I still love the race, love the people involved but wow what an eye opener.
Several months ago it all started – the meetings, the race documents, the marketing and compliance stuff. Letters to authorities, formal approval, liaising with Port of Melbourne, organising the Coast Guard for the start and of course Kordia for the scheds. Watching the office chase up boats and crew for paperwork, book flights and accommodation, arrange to borrow equipment, shipping of trophies and flags to King Island. And then there is the organisation of volunteers – at least four for Race Directors, a couple for media, four more for incident management and a doctor on call of course.
And then a week out it all starts hotting up. Trackers get set up and placed on each of the 20 or so boats. The Race Director team meet up, to discuss each entrant (risk assessment), go over last minute plans. The finishing team head off to the airport, the start team split, one to monitor the line on the Coast Guard boat heads to Queenscliff while the other heads to Cape Schanck to monitor the sign on sched. The media team prepare the boat bios and prepare the background content.
Meanwhile King Island yacht club have spent several months too, applying for their special all night liquor licence, ordering vast amounts of food and drinks, organising volunteers (who roster on all night cooking food), arrange the local trophies, arrange a vehicle and equipment for the finish line and start on the working bees to spruce up the club house. They run around town putting up flyers and letting people know the event is on too including the mayor who is booked for presentation. They organise the cool store container (thanks to King Island Dairy for that). They organise to use the moorings and organise inflatables as well as boat crews (who roster on all night too). They pick us up at the airport, billet us in their homes and made us very welcome. Meanwhile we give them a hand unloading supplies and getting things ready at the club, realising just how much they have to purchase.
There are fires to light, computers and PA to set up, the band gear to prepare, cheeses to bag up, steaks to cut, last minute deliveries and phone calls of course. Meanwhile life goes on, especially work and home life. They have farms to tend, patients to see, homes and families to tend to – all this with the reality they will get no sleep the coming night.
You have seen the local volunteers behind the kitchen and behind the bar, always smiling and always ready to say hello. You probably don’t think of them as local mums and dads, pub owners, farm owners, local business people, council. You probably don’t notice the ORCV finish team recording results, doing the radio scheds, writing the web articles, messaging family and supporters, taking calls from interested parties and generally playing mother hen, watching over the fleet. Boats come in, drinks get poured as they juggle mingling and chatting while taking photos and posting articles. Fortunately the yachties are relatively well behaved so there is no drama there. We chase up finishing declarations, hope for no protests and try to wrap up the formal results recording. Before long there is a presentation to prepare, with trophies, results to check, articles to write.
Inevitably the boats leave and the clean up begins, you can imagine what that is like for tired locals and ORCV volunteers. Some local volunteers we find out are also volunteering for a running race event on the Sunday too !! Others volunteer to run some yachties to the airport too in their own car. The ORCV team can almost relax, but still keep an eye on boats on the trip home, its not over yet. There is more to do in the next couple of days too, debriefs and lessons learnt.
Chatting over dinner the night before the race with the Commodore of the King Island Yacht Club we get a real insight into how important the event is for the King Island Yacht club, its their major fundraiser for the year and they are very proud of “their” race. They are a valued partner of the ORCV and a much appreciated group of people who give their time generously for you and your race. They are a dwindling group of volunteers and are not getting any younger.
Next time the urge comes from an impatient skipper or crew to spin around at the finish line of a race, we hope you remember the race fairies and come in for at least an hour or two and let them know how much you value what they do.
For some great interviews with King Island Yacht Club, click on:
Commodore Duncan Porter
Volunteer Kim Hill