Organizing a Sailing World Championship – 5 questions to Noortje van der Lugt, project manager

By Liesbeth Brederode

When organizing the Olympic class Sailing World Championship, many different parties are involved. A World Championship is initiated by World Sailing, the international governing body for the sport of sailing. Various countries then attempt to secure the event. For this World Championship, three parties played a major role: the Royal Dutch Sailing Federation (as the Dutch authority for competitive sailing), the municipality of The Hague, and event organizer TIG Sports. They jointly submitted the proposal. The initial plans for the current event date back to 2010!

Securing such an event is one thing, but organizing and running it is another challenge. Over four years ago, Noortje van der Lugt was appointed as the project manager with overall responsibility. Noortje isn’t working alone, though; Ilse Janssen is in charge of the water aspect, and they are supported by a team of 30 people from TIG Sports. Close collaboration is also maintained with the municipality of The Hague, the Royal Dutch Sailing Federation, World Sailing, and many suppliers. And of course, the volunteers shouldn’t be forgotten!

What is involved in setting up such an event?

The event itself lasts for 10 days, but we need 14 days for both setup and teardown! During setup, we faced challenging weather – frequent rain and strong winds. The winds were even too strong at times to set up tents. We really consulted with our meteorologist to find moments between rain showers to proceed quickly with setup.

Additionally, we moved a total of 7,000 cubic meters of sand. A ramp was built for the boat park at Zuiderstrand, and we leveled the terrain for event locations and boat parks. The sand was dredged from the harbor and deposited where needed. Furthermore, we laid down a total of 1,324 metal plates, upon which boats and tents now stand. That’s equivalent to 4 soccer fields. Festival at Sea’s swimming pool contains 3,412,500 liters of water – groundwater, to be precise!

What needs to be arranged for the people working at the event?

To mention a few things: accreditation is prepared for everyone, a card indicating access permissions. In total, we issued 3,250 of these cards for sailors, staff, organizers, media, volunteers, security, etc. For the organization and World Sailing, 5,000 overnight stays were booked in Kijkduin, and 6,172 lunch packages are provided to the 454 volunteers during the event. We have 244 shared bicycles available for transportation between different locations. You can notice that we are in the midst of the event season: everyone needs the same equipment, and suppliers might not always have sufficient availability. The Formula 1 organization in Zandvoort is eagerly awaiting our shared bicycles!

How has the first week gone?

Actually, it’s going very well! The team is performing smoothly, everyone is well-coordinated, and while we encountered challenging weather during setup, the current conditions are nearly perfect!

What are the most exciting new developments you see at this event?

I find it fascinating to witness the sustainability initiatives. For the first time, we have generators running on hydrogen instead of diesel. The races are also available for live tracking from Festival aan Zee.

What are you looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to the start of the medal races. That’s truly the next phase. While we’re currently sailing with fleets of 40 participants, in the medal races, you see the top competitors racing against each other. The races will be filmed from helicopters, and these visuals can be watched live at Festival aan Zee. I’m really excited about that!

Written by Liesbeth Brederode

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