A NEW CREW MEMBER SHOULD LOOK TO ESTABLISH TRUST AND JOIN IN THE FUN, TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE AND CHALLENGE OTHERS TO IMPROVE AS WELL
It can be a daunting prospect to be the new crew member joining an established sailing team. What will your role be in the team? Will they like you? Will you fit in? Is the boat and performance what you hope it will be? It is always helpful to remember the stresses can go the other way too. Is the new person going to be loud and shout? Do they have the skills we hope they do? Will they blend with the existing team and help bring out the best in everyone?
Normally, a certain amount of discussion will have taken place before you turn up to the boat and meet the crew. You should understand the aims and objectives of the team and know what role you are coming to fulfil.
So, it should just be a case of meeting the team, fitting in and doing your bit to the best of your ability to create a high-performance team. You are by no means limited to fulfilling your job on the boat but, depending on how you communicate, it is also hoped you will improve and enhance the performance of the whole team and boat, making your presence beneficial to everyone. If you’re successful, your reputation will go before you. This is the same whether you are a professional or an amateur sailor.
No owner wants to be told that their pride and joy of a boat is an old heap. Few owners want to be told that they need to spend a fortune on new sails and hardware to get a better performance. The reality is there are always ways to improve that cost very little.
Small changes in teamwork, boat handling and tactics can produce gains on the race course, and this in turn will lead to a better performance and greater pleasure for the owner. Now, as an excited and invigorated owner, they become encouraged by their results and soon the concept of some new sails has become a reality.
Boat owners need to be nurtured so they remain in love with the sport. They want great camaraderie on the water with their team and to develop their skills and improve performance. If it feels like their hobby is fast becoming a money pit then the love affair is over and that is one less team on the race course. That’s bad for racing opportunities and the reputation of the sport.
Ingratiating yourself with a new crew is not an easy task. They do not want someone to come on board and start changing the way everything is done. They do not want to be embarrassed and they do not want someone to give a running commentary about how things could be done better. It takes time to understand the crew dynamics and you want to establish yourself in your role before you voice any opinions.
To fit in or stand out?
To fit in requires an element of trust. If you are unknown to the crew then it will take a little time to establish itself. If you are known by reputation then it will take a little time for you to prove your worth. Good teamwork relies heavily on people knowing their job and trusting everyone else to do their job at the appropriate time and in the right manner to provide a seamless performance. If you are second guessing or trying to cover people then there will be a dip in performance. By being professional in your approach and the way you communicate with others, you will establish trust.
End of day debriefs are invaluable and an opportunity to reflect on the day’s sailing, to question any confusion and identify how things can be improved. Contributing to that discussion should be done in a positive manner. You need to input on areas where you can see room for improvement, but there is no need to talk just for the sake of it. Identify a couple of actions that can be addressed for the next day and remember to applaud any changes made if they improved the performance.
First impressions do last and it is difficult to change opinions of people once these have become established and this goes two ways. Try to approach new boats and crews with an open mind. Everyone has skills and talents that are not always visible. Annoying habits can be overlooked if someone brings something else to the table.
People’s backgrounds take time to understand and you may find that the person who annoyed you when you first met them just saved you a race by fixing something that could have been a showstopper.
Never judge a book by its cover!
‘BOAT OWNERS NEED TO BE NURTURED SO THEY REMAIN IN THE SPORT’