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Old 07-07-2014, 10:37   #1
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How to Choose a good Skipper

Recently joined a club and wanted to sail asap and get experience so I put my name on a crew list one race night. This got me hooked up with a skipper on a J24 as a "trial to see if I like racing". Pretty soon I'm being trained on foredeck, bruised from head to toe to first day, but I'm a quick learner and picked it up fairly fast.

Literally two weeks later I'm doing a regatta (talk about diving in) and learning as the race progresses that I don't like the way the skipper repeatedly yells, along with his son who flies spinnaker, chirping next to him. So I tell him I can only have one skipper. It gets worse, day two of the regatta and I'm ready to jump ship but somehow make it to land without blowing my own top.

For a newbie who wants experience with a good skipper, should I tell this guy to shove it and find another boat? Or is crewing on a J24 a huge learning curve that also requires very thick skin for surly skippers?
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Old 07-07-2014, 10:39   #2
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

If you're not happy why stay?
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Old 07-07-2014, 10:44   #3
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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If you're not happy why stay?
Good question! I guess I stuck around until now because I've learned a ton.
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?
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Old 07-07-2014, 10:47   #4
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

There are other skippers who don't yell. And many are excellent racers. Just hang around the club and you'll soon learn who they are.
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Old 07-07-2014, 10:53   #5
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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There are other skippers who don't yell. And many are excellent racers. Just hang around the club and you'll soon learn who they are.
That's a good idea, I appreciate your thoughts!
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:01   #6
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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Originally Posted by Offshore74 View Post
Recently joined a club and wanted to sail asap and get experience so I put my name on a crew list one race night. This got me hooked up with a skipper on a J24 as a "trial to see if I like racing". Pretty soon I'm being trained on foredeck, bruised from head to toe to first day, but I'm a quick learner and picked it up fairly fast.

Literally two weeks later I'm doing a regatta (talk about diving in) and learning as the race progresses that I don't like the way the skipper repeatedly yells, along with his son who flies spinnaker, chirping next to him. So I tell him I can only have one skipper. It gets worse, day two of the regatta and I'm ready to jump ship but somehow make it to land without blowing my own top.

For a newbie who wants experience with a good skipper, should I tell this guy to shove it and find another boat? Or is crewing on a J24 a huge learning curve that also requires very thick skin for surly skippers?
First of all if he allows anyone else on teh boat to issue commands (chirping) he is a bad skipper. But you are near the bottom of the sailing ladder and "earning your stripes"

Are you learning anything?

Are you hearing any "scuttlebutt" about this guy?

Does he win?

I have been yelled at by "tough" skippers - but have stayed with winners as long as I am learning. It is a tough call only you can make. I leave obnoxious skippers as soon as I have drained them of their knowledge.

If you build your reputation you can find a better boat. Also if you are over 5'10" and 160 or so you need to get off the foredeck as soon as you can. Unless you like it - Some guys are wired for foredeck...

J24 is about the biggest class out there and there is a ton of stuff out there on how to do it right. Watch this series of 5 videos by Harken. If your Skipper is not running his crew largely like this, run away fast...

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Old 07-07-2014, 11:12   #7
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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Are you learning anything?

Are you hearing any "scuttlebutt" about this guy?

Does he win?
Thanks Ex-Calif you're definitely putting it in perspective. I've learned a lot but mostly from his crew (who are hyper-devoted) as I find his explanations a bit demeaning or complicated until they sink in. But I'm new so everything is a first. Would love to know more "scuttlebutt" but I'm new at the club, only the woman who asked me when we were introduced on crew night "are you sure you want to race on a J24?" felt like I was given a way out from this guy. And lastly, he loses and blames his sails. It's been brutal. Basically everything is pointing for me to run the opposite direction from what I'm hearing. Hard lesson I guess.
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:20   #8
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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if you are over 5'10" and 160 or so you need to get off the foredeck as soon as you can. Unless you like it - Some guys are wired for foredeck...
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.
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Old 07-07-2014, 11:23   #9
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

If you don't like the skipper, change boats.

There are fun boats and there are torture boats. You can learn on either, but one type is more fun. It's your leisure time, so it doesn't have to suck.

Sometimes the fun boats are the ones that win, and you end up with friends that you respect.
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Old 07-07-2014, 14:00   #10
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

I understand you wanted to race in order to learn faster to sail, not the other way round. Then, you should find a skipper who *teaches* you how to sail, not one that just needs a foredeck slave.

IMO, when racing, you learn how to sail fast in a race. This is different from sailing efficiently while cruising.

Alain
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Old 07-07-2014, 14:26   #11
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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...find a skipper who *teaches* you how to sail, not one that just needs a foredeck slave.
Thanks Alain, in his defense I learned a lot about what I don't like, when it comes to sailing, often these harder lessons are the best I find. With the training I got, for my very first regatta, our boat came in 5th and 7th place on the first day. The yelling got bad day two and we came in last. How's that for motivation!

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IMO, when racing, you learn how to sail fast in a race. This is different from sailing efficiently while cruising.
Completely agree, that's my next goal, find a skipper who can do exactly that.

I just called him and said it's not the right fit but thanks, see you around. He went silent. Onwards!
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Old 07-07-2014, 14:54   #12
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

A ploy that may help with screaming skippers: just tell him that when yelled at you get nervous and tend to drop winch handles overboard! Then do it... there is no excuse for abusing volunteer crew!

I once was asked to crew on what had been the class champion in a one design fleet in SF bay. I was pretty experienced at the time, and was winning in my own boat. The skipper turned out to be a dickhead... silly things like insisting that I take a six pack of beer back to my boat (quite a distance away) because he ran a "dry boat". I had already agreed to not drink any of it on board. Then he casually informed me that he would be yelling at me during the race. I told him that that wasn't acceptable and he agreed to not yell. Hah! Even before the start... We won the race, he was really happy, and I never went back aboard. Life is too short to put up with that crap.

With the enthusiasm that you seem to exhibit, you won't have much trouble finding other rides, and believe me, the word will get around that you are good crew. Before long you will have your pick of boats.

Cheers,

Jim

PS Just noted your last post: well done! Good luck with your next vessel and skipper.
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Old 07-07-2014, 15:33   #13
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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...just tell him that when yelled at you get nervous and tend to drop winch handles overboard! Then do it... there is no excuse for abusing volunteer crew!
Hahaha, nice trick! I might use that one day. Funny enough the other day his son who was racing with us dropped a winch handle overboard in a frenzy of ropes flying and I was the one who picked it out of the drink.

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The skipper turned out to be a dickhead... he casually informed me that he would be yelling at me during the race.
I was also informed of yelling, got the "who I am on land and who I am on water is different and don't take it personally" speech. I said I don't like yelling and if it happens someone is going over the lifelines.

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With the enthusiasm that you seem to exhibit, you won't have much trouble finding other rides, and believe me, the word will get around that you are good crew. Before long you will have your pick of boats.
Thanks Jim, I appreciate the positive reinforcement. It started to get to the point where I didn't want to be in the boat with certain people and was prepared to swim...that's a feeling I never want to have again if I can avoid it.

Cheers!
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Old 07-07-2014, 15:40   #14
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

What to look for:

A skipper who volunteers this information: he wants you to have or will give you experience at all the positions. This man is interested in developing crew skills. He may insist you wear a lifejacket at all times, which might aggravate you, but it will be worth it. The only excuse for screaming is a gale you have to be heard over.

I know i'm writing in a very positive way, but while I sailed with Jim, I also had the great good fortune, when Jim was singlehanded racing to sail with a skipper of a similar boat that competed in the same offshore race schedules, and gained heaps of confidence, learned strengths and weaknesses. [I had got my start in sailing doing "beer can" races on SF Bay.]

Mainly, screamers are undisciplined personalities, or insecure, not good examples at all.

Have fun!
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Old 07-07-2014, 15:53   #15
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Re: How to choose a good skipper

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What to look for:

A skipper who volunteers this information: he wants you to have or will give you experience at all the positions. This man is interested in developing crew skills. He may insist you wear a lifejacket at all times, which might aggravate you, but it will be worth it. The only excuse for screaming is a gale you have to be heard over.

I know i'm writing in a very positive way, but while I sailed with Jim, I also had the great good fortune, when Jim was singlehanded racing to sail with a skipper of a similar boat that competed in the same offshore race schedules, and gained heaps of confidence, learned strengths and weaknesses. [I had got my start in sailing doing "beer can" races on SF Bay.]

Mainly, screamers are undisciplined personalities, or insecure, not good examples at all.

Have fun!
Thanks Ann! Wise words indeed. It's reassuring to know there's good ones out there, I better get to the club and start speed dating!
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