Find, Manage and Keep a Race Crew, this is probably the crux of a successful offshore team.
Having the right crew on your boat is as important as the sails and equipment and contributes completely to the fun you have both on the boat racing and afterwards off the boat socialising.
Putting The Team Together
As a skipper and leader on your boat, an enormous amount of time should be spent putting your race crew together.
With the right mix of skills and personalities, you are guaranteed to race well. You will keep the team together because they have fun and look forward to sailing.
When there is conflict on the boat or lack of respect for each other you will find yourself continually replacing people who are not committed to the same goals and aspirations as yourself and your team.
Crews have family, work and social commitments so if they think that turning up is a chore they will soon find other places to be.
This means perhaps perpetuating the problem by your constant search for “arms and legs” to fill positions rather than finding the right person for the role and one that fits in with the rest of the team.
Things to pay particular attention to are things like the program for the season.
Start by looking at all the races and regattas you’re interested in sailing and then step back and think about what is realistic. It’s easy to get excited about all of the great sailing events of the season, it’s easy to over-commit.
Put yourself in your crew’s shoes and remember that even though they’re a lot of fun, races and regattas are also a lot of work.
Schedule some practice sails, a crew get-together which includes family and above all ask the team what they would like to do, you will find that if the crew have input into the program that their commitment will be far greater.
If you are managing a big crew, designate one of the other members to be team communicator. This guarantees great feedback because crewmembers can be timid in speaking directly with the “boss”.
Post Race Debrief – Find, Manage and Keep a Race Crew
Post-race or regatta de-briefs are essential to get feedback from the team. This allows for adjustments to the sailing positions, race strategies and the future program. It also ensures improving race results for the future.
The de-briefs need to be a little structured with someone responsible for jotting down some bullet points. Importantly the de-brief should not be too long, everyone these days have a busy life.
At a regatta, the debrief can take the form of a crew dinner. Include spouses so that they feel part of the group and feel part of the team.
With a club or single race event, a debrief on the boat before heading to the club. This enables you to sort out any issues on the boat from the day’s event. Either crew-wise or mechanical. It gives you a chance to confirm the program and who is available for the next event.
Above all, remember that sailing on your boat has to be fun for all participants. That is what keeps the team together and makes them keen to come back.