Monday, February 27, 2006

The Team Spirit

It's cliche, I know, but it's true. The single most important thing is team work. This holds especially for match racing. I say this both based on my short experience and the response of veterans in the field when asked about the secret of the best sailors. Apparently the legendary Peter Gilmour is sailing with the same guys for over a decade now. Same holds for Russell Coutts. It is no wonder you don't hear much talking on board the boats at Grade 1 events. For these guys, its all instinct, the look in the eyes of the skipper is enough of an order for the bowman. For beginners like us, there is a heck of shouting going on in the pre-start...

Although match racing seems about tactics and smart use of rules, all these become only meaningful at the hands of a good crew. How do you want to set up a situation to give your opponent a penalty if you can't handle the boat? Or how do you want to escape a tight cover, if your tacks take ages to complete? So far, I was lucky to sail with good sailors. But, bringing together good sailors does not neccessarily result in a good team. Besides being good at what they do, team members must also be able to keep their cool at tight situations, trust the ability and judgement of each other, maximize concentration, minimize shouting and unnecessary talking...the list is long. They also have to get along well. You don't want your few days of escape from work to turn into a stresfull trip. To sum up, if you want to enjoy match racing find a good bunch of people with both social and technical ability. This might sound hard but don't get scared, building up the team spirit can be as much fun as sailing! Currently, I'm also learning with my sailing buddies and brothers how to become a better team. The good thing is when you are close to the bottom of the learning curve, the only way is up!


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