How to Become a Super Crew

  1. You can start from any level;

    Have only sailed two or three times.
    Have sailed a bit, but not raced.
    Have raced a little as crew.
    Have raced most of a season as crew.
    Have skippered a little.
    Have skippered a lot.

  2. Before the Season

    Offer to help work on the boat - on land or afloat
    Read books on:
    fundamentals - Joyce; Chapman
    magazines - Sail
    rules - (Join US Sailing)
    sail trim
    tactics -Gary Jobson
    parts of boat & sails
    running and standing rigging
    sailing terms
    tactics & techniques

  3. Clothing

    Boat work - old everything (& bring a change); cover hair; gloves; wet feet
    Pleasure sailing - sturdy comfortable; layers; soft soled shoes; jacket/wet gear
    bathing suit (makes good underwear for overnight stays); nice for dinner
    Racing - layers for hot to cold; wet gear & boots; pack light, but enough:
    a nice change for the harbor

  4. Stepping Aboard a new boat

    Stow your gear.
    Check out the following:
    winches/deck layout
    where halyards lead - grab and pull to find each end
    sheet layouts and leads
    ask for safety tour - life jackets; raft; harness; horn; flares, etc.

  5. Going Racing - In the Harbor

    Help bend on sails
    Help rig sheets & guys
    Check your watch against the Race Committee clock
    Reread race instructions
    Check weather report
    Stow food & drink

  6. Going to the Starting Line

    Hoist & check sails; check spinnaker packing
    Check leads for conditions
    Review actual weather against forecast
    Check wind direction and guess likely course(s)
    Review days objectives & competition
    Plan start and first leg strategy
    Determine your assigned position
    Stow all chatter not directly related to boat performance

  7. In the Starting Area

    Double check wind and current
    Read RC flags/get course
    Assess starting line; preferred end; reference marks for midpoint;
    Time the length of the line
    Watch any prior classes to test your strategy
    Check wind frequently for oscillations
    Speak to confirm commands or identify threats; otherwise be quiet

  8. Racing

    Perform on your station; keep it shipshape at all times
    Anticipate next action (tack, mark rounding, chute set/takedown, gybe)
    Watch competition (report changes if asked or a major change happens)
    Watch for weather changes (shifts, strength, current lines, fog, storms)
    Be aware of boat speed and performance
    Keep all non-race chatter stowed

  9. After Race

    Congratulate helm/skipper for a) winning; b) finishing
    Thank crew - nice job.
    Immediately start stowing gear - arrive in harbor shipshape and Bristol fashion
    Stow personal gear, change clothes brush hair, etc. before or just at dockside
    As soon as docked, Break out beverages & snacks
    Toast the crew and the ship
    Talk about what went right & what could be done better - lessons learned
    Confirm next race date and crew list
    (For the truly driven, go home and write down as much as you can about the race: winds, course, tactics, sails, good moves, bad moves, lessons learned.)
    Have fun!