More than 125 enthusiastic volunteers have joined forces to work at the 2023 Festival of Sails, contributing more than 4000 hours of unpaid work hours to support the event which is celebrating a major milestone with the 180th running of the iconic Passage Race.
From international race officials to local mums and dads prepared to make sandwiches, volunteers from their late teens to their eighties have put their hand up to take on a broad range of jobs and responsibilities across the four days of the Geelong regatta.
Festival Chairman Paul Buchholz said the volunteers played a critical role in the delivery of a successful event and he was incredibly grateful for their contribution, particularly in this milestone year.
“Quite simply, we couldn’t do it without them,” he said. “You can’t help but be impressed that so many people are prepared to donate their time to our event, which shines a real spotlight on Geelong and our beautiful waterfront.”
“For some, like our race officials, it’s an opportunity to develop and broaden their skill sets, for others it’s a chance to catch up with old mates and have some fun. Either way, we’re always incredibly grateful that they’re here and the contribution that they make.”
Volunteer coordinator Daniella d’Amore says she loves working with the broad and diverse range of volunteers and really appreciates their enthusiasm.
“They’re such a terrific bunch of people and despite the challenges of wrangling so many people, it’s incredibly rewarding,” she says.
For race officer Ross Wilson from Black Rock, the 2023 event marks his 25th year at Festival of Sails.
“My parents always volunteered, and it was just something that seemed to be an important way to give back. For me, coming to this regatta every year is like reconnecting with family and catching up with old mates,” he says.
Having volunteered on the World Sailing Olympic circuit for more than 15 years, Ross reckons Geelong’s Festival of Sails can hold its own as an event and is still one of his favourites.
“It is a beautiful part of the world here at Geelong and I’ll be happy to keep volunteering for as long as I can,” he said. “It’s a great event and we always have a great time.”
“These volunteers just quietly get on with the all the jobs that so many people wouldn’t even notice,” says Paul Buchholz, “They need to know their efforts are recognised and appreciated … and they most definitely are!”