The Model Skipper
Provided by Bill Gladstone, North U Director
Having Trouble Building a Winning Program? Here are Twenty One Team Building techniques we've observed.
1 - When it is time to put the jib up prior to the start on a blustery day, sail a close reach to maximize spray across the foredeck. By soaking the crew prior to the start they won't be so reluctant to get wet during the race. Do not reach off in an effort to keep the foredeck dry.
photo by Rick Roberts
2 - If things are going slowly during a late spinnaker hook up, shout instruction from the helm. While it may be difficult to hear details, a simple yell of "Hurry up" provides lots of inspiration. Since the crew are generally taking their time, waiting for inspiration, the "Hurry" hail is a big help.
3 - When you are steering upwind, pinch up above close hauled until the foredeck crew hail back, "Stop Pinching." It's the only way you know their head is in the game.
4 - Wait until the last possible moment to make your mark rounding call. Jibe set? Float Drop? Don't tell anyone until the last second. The crew loves a challenge. If you tell them too early, the challenge is gone. (Truth is, the crew generally has it figured out long before you do, so your late announcement won't matter much...)
5 - Sail with old sails. That way, if (when) you lose, you'll have a handy excuse, so the crew won't have to take the heat. Likewise, use faulty or broken equipment, and don't upgrade.
6 - Don't practice. How many times do I have to tell you, this is a leisure activity, not a sport? And who's got time for practice anyway - there's hardly enough time to make the races, much less get out for extra sailing time. Besides, people learn best under pressure.
7 - Separate yourself from the crew. For example, buy yourself imported beer, but treat your crew to domestic swill. This will firm up the bond among the team members while reinforcing a critical hierarchy.
8 - Keep your starting plan a secret. Or better still, don't make a plan. Your ability to ad-lib will show your crew that you are a "flexible thinker," without rigid preconceptions.
9 - Claim accomplishments for yourself, and blame your crew for any failings. For example, use the "I" word when talking about victory, and the "they" word when describing mistakes. Remember, there is no "We" in victory, and no "I" in screw up.
photo by Daniel Forster
10 - Arrive late. Set a dock time well before the race to make sure the crew is all there when you arrive. You shouldn't have to wait around for them.
11 - Get out to the race area at the last possible moment so you don't waste time tuning up or making wind observations.
12 - Sail shorthanded. By sailing with less than a full complement of crew everyone stays busier and has more room to move around.
13 - Tack without hailing. Don't you hate how the boat heels over when all the crew jump off the rail at "Ready About?" Well, skip it. Just put the helm down, and watch them scurry like rats when their feet get wet.
14 - Don't clean the boat's bottom. Have you ever rubbed your hand across the scum that grows on a boat bottom after a couple of weeks in the water? That must be the slickest stuff known to man! Why wash it off when it is sure to create a slick bottom finish?
15 - Do not feed your crew. Keep them hungry for victory.
16 - Do not thank your crew. You are paying the bills. They should be thanking you!
17 - Yell at your crew. If they aren't doing what you want, or aren't moving fast enough, it must be because they don't know what you want. Yell louder so they'll understand. Keep saying the same thing over and over, louder and louder. This works great in foreign countries too.
18 - If your crew report tactical observations about the wind, current or fleet, snap back with a curt, "I know." Otherwise they might claim credit for a tactical insight. Besides, all that chatter is distracting anyway. You can look around while you drive to see for yourself what is going on.
19 - Keep all your cruising clutter aboard. If you take off all your cruising gear when you race then your crew will think there is plenty of room for them to bring their sailing gear, which will add unnecessary weight.
20 - Complain about your rating or about the one design sailors who are pals with the chief measurer and push the class rules to the limit. The damn politics of it all. Your crew will be comforted to know they are not responsible for the poor results. It was hopeless from the start.
21 - Don't waste your time reading or attending seminars. It's just talk talk talk. You can't learn that way, and there's really nothing new. Truth is, you know all there is to know, and you are already doing all the stuff recommended here. Stop reading this article and get back to work right now!
Reprinted with permission from the North U TRIM book.