The Weymouth Grand Slam: Building a legacy
Anyone who has had the pleasure of competing in Weymouth will be more than aware of the event's long standing traditions, from the historic leaders board to the prestigious hall of fame. In part two of our Weymouth build up series, Graeme Sawyer gives us insight into how Weymouth has built its stunning reputation within the UK beach volleyball calendar.
"Putting on the Classic each year is not a simple task. Almost from the end of the previous event we have to think about raising the considerable finance required. This comes from sponsorship, entry fees and support from the local Council but none of these can be taken for granted and involve numerous emails and meetings throughout the winter.
We had a few years where the support of RAF Careers eased the financial pressure, although these years were the exception. We always have to take into consideration there isn’t a conflict amongst potential sponsors.This was highlighted when the Jose Cuervo rep said if we allowed this other potential sponsor to come in he would ‘have his legs broken!’
Once we know funding is in place we can start thinking about everything else, building a
support team, working with sponsors/UKBT and other interested partners, referees, team of
ball people, entries, equipment updates, risk assessments, licenses, booking seating,
marquees, security, medical, branding, social media, website, press releases, Charity Night
I have always thought it was important that we keep records of winners etc of the event and
these can always be seen every year on our Honours Board in the marquee or on our
website. I also set up an All Time Greats list giving each winner 5 points, 3 for a runner-up
and 1 point for a 3rd place. This list now has 103 men on it and 76 women and every year
players come into the tent to check they have been added and spelt correctly!
We also run a Hall Of Fame which over the 40 years just has 22 members. To get in the Hall Of Fame you have to have had a great run of performances over many years or to have had a major impact on the event in another way, for instance Ray Capewell for being a referee at the event for over 20 years. Watch out for a few new names being added to the list this year!
Despite the hard work the event takes to put on it also brings its rewards it is great to meet
up with the British stars of the Sport every year and we have had some great moments in the
media, being on BBC’s The One Show, Blue Peter, Sky Sports, BBC Radio 1, local radio and
TV. We have also met up with some pretty well known names through the event. The main
headline has to be the day in 2009 the Queen came to the beach and we were presented to
her Majesty and Prince Philip.
Over the 40 years we have had just 4 event Directors:- Pete Bennett, Lyle Harmon-Beglan,
Steve Allgood and myself. To have put on the event is always a very satisfying
achievement and the thanks we get from the players on finals day - Sunday always spurs us
on into the future.
However we are getting to a point now where we need to think about long term legacy and
therefore we are working even more closely with UKBT so we can drop our workload. Both
myself and Pete would both love to be at the point where we can just come down and watch
the Classic at an even higher level than it is today. It is going to be difficult though, local
councils have less and less money, sponsorship is harder to find and prices are rocketing."
Many thanks to Graeme for sharing his memories with us in this series; the Weymouth Grand Slam takes places this weekend 21-23rd July with free entry for all spectators.