Tuesday, October 20, 2009

AN INTERVIEW WITH ANDY GROOM

Andy Groom, Events Manager with GMF, the company who run the annual Tiree Wave Classic, kindly answered a few questions for us at this year's event.

Tiree's 23rd Wave Classic. But how long have you been coming to Tiree?
Since the beginning, in 1985. My business partner, Joe Kelly and I, were running a windsurf shop in Glasgow. A friend of ours was out on Tiree filming and told us 'what an amazing place for windsurfing. We could out in 1985 for a 'reccy' and ran the 1st event in 1986.

How has the competition grown from those early days?
It has become bigger and more internationally recognised. It is also now one of the longest running windsurf events in the world.

You're events manager for GMF. That's a pretty big remit. What does it involve?
Taking any project from creation to completion or planning to production. GMFCo have produced events as diverse as 7 gigs in 10 hours around Scotland for Fame Academy, 12 live broadcasts for Bon Jovi in 12 cinemas across the UK and brand activation in festivals for drinks companies.

Tiree has been becalmed for most of the week. How do the competitors react?
They are used to it. They are a very patient lot. Windsurfing is about the search and waiting. It is one of the aspects that make it so special.

Is this the calmest you've ever known the weather to be during the Wave Classic?
No, occasionally we have had the stable high pressure before (or the 'Indian Summer). It's Scotland, it's changeable!

How does Tiree compare locations on the World Cup calendar?
Totally unique. Most other locations will have one beach and set up everything there. We have the luxury (and the logistical nightmare) of many beaches to choose from.

Was there enough competition this week to decide a winner?
Yes, we completed enough competition to see a winner in most fleets in the longest day of competition history

Turning to sponsorship. Have the Wave Classic suffered in the current economic downturn?
It has been difficult to secure funding. Event Scotland and Argyll and Bute Council were very to commit but HIE [Highlands and Islands Enterprise] were going through a financial reshuffle and could not commit until the 11th hour and that means other funding bodies have to hold off on their offer.

Is the future of the Tiree Wave Classic secure?
No, nothing is that secure. We would like to secure a three year deal so we can build from year to year rather than starting from scratch each year.

GMF has worked hard to involve the Tiree community in the Wave Classic. Are there plans to take this sort of thing further?
There are always plans to develop this. We hire An Talla as event HQ and invite everyone down to promote their business and get involved, especially as we make big efforts to invite the media and we want them to see what Tiree has to offer. Some businesses are very active, others are passive. We would be delighted if more people get involved but we can't force it.

Finally, Andy, a number of competitors at this year's Wave Classic are placed very high in the rankings of the World Series - for instance, Dany Bruch and John Skye. Do you think Tiree can continue to attract such top names?
Yes, if we can keep the level of the event (ie., prize purse and the, public relations support and TV Coverage.

Andy Groom was talking to Gordon Scott.

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