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Old 07-07-2014, 15:58   #16
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

After sailing for 40 years (I'm a cruiser), I thought racing would teach me skills I don't have. So, I joined a boat for weekly races. The boat had the same problem - multiple crew giving orders. I kept my experience to myself because they were going to teach me stuff I didn't know. Well, that didn't happen. The last straw came during an overnight race with a complete breakdown of any semblance of seaworthy skills (too much beer). We finished last more than an hour after the other boats.

That was the end of my racing career.
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Old 07-07-2014, 15:59   #17
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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There are fun boats and there are torture boats. You can learn on either, but one type is more fun.
Well put, I'm in the fun camp! Although I do like some competition. But often times the competition is mainly with myself, to be better.
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Old 07-07-2014, 16:12   #18
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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After sailing for 40 years (I'm a cruiser), I thought racing would teach me skills I don't have. So, I joined a boat for weekly races. The boat had the same problem - multiple crew giving orders. I kept my experience to myself because they were going to teach me stuff I didn't know. Well, that didn't happen. The last straw came during an overnight race with a complete breakdown of any semblance of seaworthy skills (too much beer). We finished last more than an hour after the other boats.

That was the end of my racing career.
I'm sure there's a million things one can learn cruising too -- it can't all be about doing things at lightening speed, and constantly checking sails like you've got OCD. Racing is certainly a different lifestyle I'm learning. I just want to be on the water with good people and open ears.
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Old 07-07-2014, 17:27   #19
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

Beyond the specific sailing skills involved, one of the things you may learn racing is an appreciation of how bloody strong most boats really are. At least in the SF area where I started, the racing schedule meant going out in fairly strong winds on a regular basis, and very strong winds now and then... days when most "cruisers" wouldn't leave the dock. Somewhat to my surprise, the boats absorbed a lot of punishment without falling apart. Most of the gear failures were due to operator error (how could that be??). It was very educational.

As cruisers we tend to baby our homes/yachts (and incidentally, ourselves), and many of us have no real idea about where limits really are. IMO, that knowledge is quite useful. One way of learning these sorts of things is by racing on OPBs, a wonderful arena where someone else spends the big bucks for equipment and for repairs when required. They sometimes supply lunch, too...

Cheers,

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Old 07-07-2014, 17:35   #20
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I have raced a ton in keelboats and one designs. Of the many skippers I have seen, the "yellers" most often are the mediocre sailors. The calmer ones are often the most skilled. I don't ever yell at my crew. Show emotion, convey urgency, yes.

Think of it this way- the best skippers of teams are often the ones with the best leadership skills. Who would you want running your company? An analytical pro who inspires others to do their best, or an insecure screamer who keeps people from doing well for fear of failure? Imagine if a CEO walked into a boardroom and said: i'm going to yell at you whenever I am under pressure....
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Old 07-07-2014, 17:45   #21
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

I was lucky Offshore. The first J-24 boat I raced on was skippered by a grand national champion, and she never yelled. She had nerves of steel though. Later on I crewed on a inebriated boat. Never again.
So how did I get so lucky? Went to the club meeting, looked at who was really admired and in charge-(usually not the one speaking) and asked them if I could crew. When I went to the skipper's meeting, were most of them pick up crew, it was already a done deal.
I agree with above- look for the quiet skipper that makes sure there is a team rotation. He's interested in your development.
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Old 07-07-2014, 17:55   #22
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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This is hilarious, I'm 6.1" 200lbs. Why on earth he thought I should do foredeck, other than he was desperate for crew, is an ignorant choice on his part. Leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I did however learn my role and did it fast while he repeatedly screamed at me even though I'm a heavyweight.
He will continue to place mediocre and blame evrything but himself. A good skipper takes responsibility for everything and if he doesn't train his crw (and learn how to keep them) he will never be a winner.

Good call on jumping ship. Don't give up. Sailing J24s competitively is a blast.

The best J24 sailor here is Vladimir Borschar. I was trimming on a J24 and we did a two boat training session with him one day. We swapped trimmers - I trimmed for him - then we swapped boats - hie and his trimmer on our boat. We took his.

The good news (for me) is when I was trimming for him we were faster. When he and his trimmer were on our boat they were faster (it wasn't the boat). I learned a ton that day. We ended up 3rd in the nationals that year. Vladimir (of course) won and went to Australia for the worlds.

I have never heard that guy raise his voice
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Old 07-07-2014, 17:56   #23
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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I have raced a ton in keelboats and one designs. Of the many skippers I have seen, the "yellers" most often are the mediocre sailors. The calmer ones are often the most skilled. I don't ever yell at my crew. Show emotion, convey urgency, yes.

Think of it this way- the best skippers of teams are often the ones with the best leadership skills. Who would you want running your company? An analytical pro who inspires others to do their best, or an insecure screamer who keeps people from doing well for fear of failure? Imagine if a CEO walked into a boardroom and said: i'm going to yell at you whenever I am under pressure....
Agree with this. I started racing one designs in high school and am retired, but still race a little. One thing I learned early on was that if you yell, or even talk loud, the boats around can hear you and get a heads up on your tactics, kind like if a QB on a football team yelled in the huddle and the other team knew what play was being run. Of course if the boat is so far behind that no other boats are close enough to hear the yelling it probably does not make any difference.

Lots of good skippers don't even speak to the crew, they just nod or use other silent signals. Of course this takes lots of sailing together and is most likely a different level of sailing/racing than you are doing.

So my advice would be to find a skipper that takes his crew out sailing before the race sand makes sure everyone is on the same page.


Keep doing this as you progress. Once you get a little more experience you will learn what things like covering every tack or chasing every lift and dodging ever header mean. Skippers often do one or the other, and some do different things at different times. There is no right or wrong with those choices, but you may feel more comfortable with a skipper that does one or the other.

Just remember sailing, and racing, should be fun and if you are not comfortable what ever level you are sailing at you will probably not be having fun.
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Old 07-07-2014, 18:30   #24
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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Just remember sailing, and racing, should be fun and if you are not comfortable what ever level you are sailing at you will probably not be having fun.
Especially the last boat - LOL...

If you are last and not having fun, what's the point?

I have sailed on the last boat - I don't know how you start on a winner.

I progressed from J24 bow, to mast, to pit to trimmer. Jumped to a competitive J24. Then I graduated to rail meat on a 40 footer and started over. Rail, to mast, to trimmer to main.

Being ready to do any job on the 40 footer was key - a guy didn't show up, I did a better job than him and he got flicked - flicking is the vernacular for dumping an unreliable or unskilled crewman - It sounds harsh but the skipper was paying $40k a year just for sails and wanted to win!

I got yelled at a bit on the 40 footer - but I was learning a lot and we were competitive.

Good crew have many options...
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Old 07-07-2014, 19:49   #25
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

There are good skippers who yell, there are good skippers who don't.

There are crewmen who need to be yelled at, there are crewmen who hear whispers.

I sail with crew who all paid just as much as I did to be there. Sometimes I skipper, sometimes I crew.

Some skippers yell at me, some don't talk loud enough to be heard. Some crew I yell at, some crew I whisper to. I never argue with any of them.

Most of you (the original poster included) are confusing racing skills with sailing skills. They have very little in common. You aren't learning to sail, you're learning to race. There will now be a wailing and gnashing of teeth from all the racers who think they are sailors, and the sailors will all chuckle.

A thin skin limits the number of boats you can crew on, whether as a sailor or as a racer. If you want a given limit, look for skippers who meet your standards, rather than meeting your skipper's standards, and crew only on those boats. You might end up with no boats to crew on. If you want crew that all meet your standards, buy a boat.

If you want to lead, learn how to follow, regardless of who's leading. Otherwise, you could end up owning a boat and single handing.

There is sailing, racing and leadership. All are skills, like carpentry and iron working. All three can be learned, studied and taught. All three have a technical side and an experience-based side.

They have very little to do with each other. Don't study carpentry to learn to sail. Don't confuse sailing skill with leadership skill, vice versa, or the lack of one for lack of another.
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Old 07-07-2014, 20:10   #26
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

Get to know them in the bar or after race party. I used to crew for "beer can" races when I lived in FL, you learn pretty quickly who is an easy-going guy and who turns into Capt. Bligh as soon as the dock lines are untied.
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Old 08-07-2014, 00:15   #27
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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Most of you (the original poster included) are confusing racing skills with sailing skills. They have very little in common. You aren't learning to sail, you're learning to race. There will now be a wailing and gnashing of teeth from all the racers who think they are sailors, and the sailors will all chuckle.
Afraid you have it a bit wrong there, Jammer. Some of the real sailors are laughing... at you.

Jim
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Old 08-07-2014, 00:42   #28
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

I find that yelling vs calm isn't necessarily correlated with skills.

I've sailed with good sailors who yelled a lot, and good ones who were better team managers. Both types knew how to win races, and both were consistent winners.

I enjoyed the team environment better. I'd rather have fun and enjoy the beers afterwards, which I found I couldn't do after being harassed.
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Old 08-07-2014, 02:15   #29
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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...Ultimately I want to be a cruiser, and I thought racing would give me the chops which is why I joined, I guess the real question is, what are the signs of a good skipper?
Racing teaches you to be a testosterone filled masochist who sails on the edge of safe seamanship.

Why would you wish to make that your formative training if you want to enjoy cruising with others?

Choose a boat that has fun and sails with mixed crew.
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Old 08-07-2014, 04:42   #30
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There are good skippers who yell, there are good skippers who don't.

There are crewmen who need to be yelled at, there are crewmen who hear whispers.

I sail with crew who all paid just as much as I did to be there. Sometimes I skipper, sometimes I crew.

Some skippers yell at me, some don't talk loud enough to be heard. Some crew I yell at, some crew I whisper to. I never argue with any of them.

Most of you (the original poster included) are confusing racing skills with sailing skills. They have very little in common. You aren't learning to sail, you're learning to race. There will now be a wailing and gnashing of teeth from all the racers who think they are sailors, and the sailors will all chuckle.

A thin skin limits the number of boats you can crew on, whether as a sailor or as a racer. If you want a given limit, look for skippers who meet your standards, rather than meeting your skipper's standards, and crew only on those boats. You might end up with no boats to crew on. If you want crew that all meet your standards, buy a boat.

If you want to lead, learn how to follow, regardless of who's leading. Otherwise, you could end up owning a boat and single handing.

There is sailing, racing and leadership. All are skills, like carpentry and iron working. All three can be learned, studied and taught. All three have a technical side and an experience-based side.

They have very little to do with each other. Don't study carpentry to learn to sail. Don't confuse sailing skill with leadership skill, vice versa, or the lack of one for lack of another.

Disagree on many counts. Cruising and racing skills are very intertwined- sail trim, reading wind, anticipating situations, close quarters boathandling, boat speed, sail choices, keeping the mast up , and on and on and on (are any of these exclusive only to racing or cruising? Think not)

As for leadership- the most successful sailboat skippers in keelboats have tremendous leadership skills- can't do it without it. You are mistaking low level beer can yellers for true world class sailors. Every skipper yells at some point, but there's a difference in conveying urgency on selective circumstances by raising one's voice, which yields results, and being a yeller, who demeans crew who are trying to do their best. I am sure there are exceptions anywhere. Sailing skill will only get you so far with a team on board. However, I am sure some of the world class Laser sailors sail that boat because they don't want to have to lead a team.
My crews have always remarked how calm I am, even when I thought I was tense and yelled a few times. We have won a fair share. They always want to come back and sail more.
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