One of Australia's biggest sporting spectacles would be nowhere without its volunteers according to one of the organisers. The Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Regatta might be a gathering of 1,000 competitors, but it is the 150 volunteers, all active sailors or in the marine industry, that make it all possible for the organising club, the Whitsunday Sailing Club.
WSC volunteers Duncan Smith and John Carroll prepare buoys needed to mark the course - Airlie Beach Race Week 2012
'All our volunteers are top-class – from the people collecting rubbish to the on-water managers. They include all types, from a retired QC, to doctors, lawyers and local people who just want to contribute to a huge and happy event,' says Principal Race Officer Jim Hayes. 'One of the unique aspects of our volunteer team is that most are active in the marine industry, which gives us a highly qualified and keen workforce, particularly out on the water,' said Mr. Hayes.
In fact, Mr. Hayes said if the volunteers were all paid, including the year of preparation for the regatta, the event could not be held. The event is being held from 10th to 16th August 2012, and the one thousand people will be accompanied by their families, their friends, workmates and acquaintances… and that is apart from people all around the country and overseas who are focusing on the event itself.
Whitsunday Sailing Club Patron Eddie Gray echoed Mr. Hayes comments, and added that apart from the paid Club staff, the Whitsunday Sailing Club is an entirely volunteer organisation. 'Volunteers have always been the heart and soul of the Whitsunday Sailing Club, from the executive committee to the safety boat operators, and I also believe our paid staff reflects the club’s volunteer spirit,' Mr. Gray said.
'The club’s volunteers are people who contribute their time, ideas and effort to the sport of sailing and are behind every event the club stages. This year’s Race Week is a very special one in the event’s 23 year history, because we not only have the support of a great sponsor in Telcoinabox, we have more than 25 local sponsors, who are helping to make Race Week an event that encompasses the whole town,' says Mr. Gray.
Telcoinabox Airlie Beach Race Week has grown over 23 years to be one of the most significant events in regional Queensland and it brings substantial financial benefits to the area and takes thousands of man hours to put together each year. 'The people who are the backbone of the event – and its heart – are our volunteers. Anyone who has seen them at work during Race Week can see the tremendous spirit at the core of the club,' said Mr. Gray.
Airlie Beach Event website