The 2019 World Championship is run entirely by volunteers, with a committee of 16 people making sure everything goes to plan. Two of those on the Committee are Amanda Butcher and Simon Stenning and we caught up with them to find out how they got involved in the event, some of the main challenges they have faced and what they are most looking forward to about Antigua 2019. What are your roles on the committee and what do they involve?
Amanda: I’m responsible for helping to find sponsors – either in kind or cash. During the event I will be ensuring all the sponsors’ expectations are met and we deliver everything we have promised.
Simon: I have been supporting the committee as needed, particularly helping to create some of the more complex spreadsheets. Over the event I will be helping Paola, the event Chairman, by trying to take some of the pressure away, dealing with things as they arise.
What have been the biggest challenges so far?
Amanda: Trying to attract sponsors has been much harder than I expected. With just over a month to go we still have not managed to bring in as many as we would like. Clearly we can’t go to the usual sailing sponsors such as the Rum and Beer brands, and it seems that the youth aspect is not as attractive as you would hope. On the other hand, some of the local brands have been amazing, offering support in kind and we’re really pleased with how local businesses have got behind us. There is still plenty of time to support us, so if you are interested in sponsorship opportunities then please email: email@example.com contact us via facebook @optiworldantigua2019
What do you think the biggest achievement of Antigua 2019 will be?
Simon: Attracting so many competitors and nations to this small island – 64 countries are competing which is a new world record! Also bringing in so much of the equipment, including the boats, by sea which has meant planning so far ahead. For many places a lot of what we need would be available in country but for us that is definitely not the case.How did you get involved in the event?
Simon: We both used to work for the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a charity which aims to give people of mixed abilities and circumstances the freedom to explore their ability and potential through adventures at sea, (Amanda was the CEO). At that time we worked with Clare Cupples who is now the Vice Commodore of Antigua Yacht Club and Race Officer for the World Championship. When she knew that Antigua had won the bid for the 2019 Worlds, she persuaded us to “sit in” on a committee meeting. The rest is history.
What’s your past experience of sailing?
Amanda: Simon is not a sailor! He jokes that he understands the thrust of a jet engine better than the wind on a sail, having served in the Royal Air Force. I used to be a sailor; apart from my tall ship experience at Jubilee Sailing Trust I used to represent the Royal Air Force at offshore sailing, including taking part in the China Sea race in a 34ft boat – but that’s the closest I’ve got to dinghy sailing.
How does this event compare to others you have helped organise?
Simon: Our event experience is wide ranging. We have both been heavily involved in major international events such as large air shows, but also have organised corporate hospitality and charity fundraising events on a smaller scale. Despite their differences most events present similar challenges.
You have an interesting story about moving to Antigua, can you give us some details?
Amanda: We had been looking at the possibility of living here for several years but found it difficult buying property long distance, particularly as we wanted to live in the local community. We finally found our house by appearing in a UK TV show called “A Place in the Sun” which involves the TV company helping with the house hunting.
What do you like to do when not working on the championship?
Amanda: We are both keen gardeners and volunteer at the Antigua and Barbuda Horticultural society. The house we bought still needs quite lot of work and Simon does as much a possible himself (although he drew the line at replacing the roof!). I am also a Girl Guide leader and a Maths tutor.
Will you be supporting the British or Antiguan team?
Amanda: We’ll be supporting both!
What’s your top tip for what to do in Antigua?
Simon: Definitely the beaches, but the beach is just the beginning! Try some of the many street food vendors – great value and a taste of the local culture. But mostly, just talk to people. Antiguans are open and friendly – find out more about them.
For news and updates on the 2019 Optiworlds, please visit the website – http://2019worlds.optiworld.org