By ERWIN CHLANDA
What do James Bond and Henley on Todd have in common?
There will be 20 cars from the Aston Martin Club – Mr Bond’s favourite conveyance – in the parade that starts the dry river regatta in Alice Springs, taking the Mickey out of the famous boat race in Mr Bond’s home country, the Henley on Thames.
Well, OK, “lots” may be overstating things a little.
Back to Alice: It will be the 54th Henley, one of the longest annual festivals in Australia run entirely by volunteers, says this year’s Commodore, Peter Nankivell, from the Rotary Club of Stuart.
He is coordinating 100 Rotary members from the town’s three clubs who are putting into this venture some 3000 man-hours, over most of the year and climaxing with the event that has become a big part of the town’s brand. This year’s date is on August 15.
ASSA ABLOY, the “global leader in door opening solutions,” has returned as the naming right sponsor.
This was proposed by the large entourage of VIPs and major clients the padlock company fetes with a major trip each year: they had strayed briefly to the V8 Supercars in Darwin but voted the madcap regatta – and Alice Springs – to be a lot more fun.
“We can go to races anywhere, going round and round and round. The HOT is unique,” was the consensus, according to Mr Nankivell.
He says over the decades the profile of the crowd has changed: there are fewer buses with interstate school kids, more locals and lots of grey nomads.
He is cautious with his estimates of the event’s profits, all of which go to charity, but says over the its half a century life about $1m has gone to worthy causes, at the discretion of the Rotary clubs.
He says it’s not the money that counts, but the massive world-wide news coverage the madcap bash attracts, a key promotion of Alice Springs.
A major charity this year is the Fred Hollows Foundation which fights trachoma, and Gabi, the renowned eye surgeon’s widow, will be present.
Henley also has a crowd funding website: “Log in and donate a few dollars,” says Mr Nankivell.
PHOTOS: The Aston Martin DB5 of Bond movie fame (top) and the Henley on Todd boat battle (above).
By ERWIN CHLANDA