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Filippi Focus | Marlow Regatta 2023

Filippi are long-standing supporters of Marlow Regatta. Situated at Dorney Lake, Marlow is one of the major regattas in the British Rowing calendar, attracting a large entry from schools, clubs and universities from around the UK along with overseas crews who are preparing for Henley Royal Regatta just down the road. It’s an independent regatta that isn’t run on behalf of a single rowing club, but is organised by a committee of volunteers on behalf of the regatta Subscribers.

We sat down with Tony Evans, President of Marlow Regatta, to discuss how the 2023 edition went and how Filippi have been supporting the event.

How do you go about preparing for Marlow Regatta, step-by-step?
The first step in preparing for our next Regatta takes place in about mid-July, when we hold our “wash-up” meeting, when all get to hear what went well and perhaps not so well, and ideas for improvements and changes are first voiced. We then start putting some flesh on these points at a meeting in September, when some draft financial figures for the regatta are
available. Further developed ideas need discussion in December. Alongside all of this, we need to consider any changes in key personnel, recruitment, retirement etc. It can take quite a while, perhaps a whole year, to make the hand-over transition. We tend to work in smaller groups based around water/racing activities, land operations, and a management group. The Regatta is a totally independent organisation, which converted to a Company Limited by Guarantee, some years ago, so we also have a board of directors; all of whom are Committee members.

How did the 2023 edition go from the organising committee’s perspective? 
This year, we decided not to produce a commercially printed programme, since nearly everybody is now able to access information via one or other form of electronic device. This was combined with a fresh approach aimed at gaining additional income from new forms of sponsorship and advertising. I am sure there were minor hiccups on the way, and a bit of “burning the midnight oil”. However, it all came together on the day, and as far as I am aware, (writing this just two days after the regatta) we seem to have run an extremely successful event.

What was/is your personal highlight, both this year and in previous?
I’ll give three personal highlights for this year. The first was an almost immediate response from Filippi saying they would be our first ever main “Platinum” sponsor. The second was seeing the vast majority of our finals being really close races, with many having six or more crews within a length or so, at the finish, thus rewarding an early decision to use a pretty costly finish camera; a tribute to the water/racing group. The third was seeing the Beginners Eight crew from the University of York win a very close race in the I Final of the combined Eights races, thus demonstrating our objective of encouraging newcomers to the sport.

How important are sponsors like Filippi in ensuring the Regatta can go ahead?

We have been very fortunate for many years in having individuals and a few firms who have sponsored individual races. We try to keep entry fees as low as possible, but, unlike non-tidal Thames regattas, we don’t get the course for free, which is understandable since the site takes some “looking after”! Sponsorship makes all the difference!

How have Filippi specifically supported Marlow Regatta?
I’m not going to disclose any figures, but we are very grateful indeed to Filippi for taking up the Platinum Sponsorship, and being so extremely easy to work with. Unlike general trading stalls, the platinum Sponsorship is about partnership and branding. Filippi boats have an excellent reputation, and Marlow Regatta has a similar status on the Regatta circuit, and it is to the benefit of both that we promote each other by appearing together; we are both a “class act”. I hope that we can develop others, since we are limited to just one day by the venue availability, and can’t really fit in many more races. So sponsorship of other aspects such as the live streaming, finish camera or other items of infrastructure, would always be welcome.

How can others help regattas like Marlow to grow and prosper? 
Looking to the future, and even now, nearly all volunteer organisations struggle to recruit volunteers. For the last 20 years or so, the volunteer sector has enjoyed the efforts of those
who could take early retirement. Given current economic conditions, and retirement age predictions, it seems unlikely that this will continue. We have lived through a “Golden Age”
of volunteers. So it is even more important that all volunteers within the sport as a whole, and particularly in the perhaps less glamourous activities needed to set up events such as ordering toilets, rubbish bins, tents, safety boats, umpire launches, etc etc. and the “admin” tasks of treasurer, secretary, safety adviser etc all needed, just as for a Club are recognised and thanked. It is up to us all to remember that all volunteers have a life outside their volunteering, which can be stressful at times, and this can affect their availability, and performance. Of course, promoting our sport at every opportunity, especially if there is a possibility of financial gain, and mutual benefit, is an obvious way, but it must be recognised that we are a very small sport, and our outreach is very limited compared to others.

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