I went to sailing practice last night on Tachyon, Shaun’s newer Farr 40. We headed North from Shilshole Marina in the Puget Sound. It was a beautiful clear night, with consistent breeze at 10 knots. We headed upwind for an hour, while they inspected the new rig. Then we pointed back for Shilshole, while the harvest moon hung like Christmas tree ornament in a bed of blue over the Cascades.
We jibed about 15 times, after which my arms were burning and gloves sticky with sweat. It was hard work, but well worth it. The team gelled this time, due in part to the two practices we had last Saturday and Monday. But the credit really goes to Jay, who took the leadership of the team a couple months ago.
We knew this all along, that A) if we get a consistent group of people together and B) if we practice together, that we will get much better. But it was always something we talked about and never did. It wasn’t until Jay stepped aboard and took ownership of the team that we started to work together. Don’t get me wrong, we have a long way to go before we are competitive with the professional crews. But the difference in team dynamic, in the volume of the boat (it used to get very loud when we rounded marks), and the speed at which we complete tasks is a vast improvement from the old days, even in this early stage of our team development.
Jay stressed that we aren’t going to bring hotshot “pinch hitter” sailors aboard for a few races, only to see them leave on other races. We are going to get a group of 9 together who will always keep the same positions and get really good at working together. While we are all competent, there are no legendary sailors on the boat, so we all can improve together. We are also practicing twice a week, and everyone shows up.
This is a far cry from previous years where we would only meet on race day on Wednesday, when everything had to go right and there was no room for error. And those who stuck it out week after week would often get bumped for a hotshot sailor to come in and do their job, all in the hopes of winning one race. If we happened to do well, great, but we paid for it in team morale months following. The attrition rate from this boat over the last 3 years was close to 100%, with a complete change of crew every year (except for Shaun, Kathering (his girlfriend), myself and Clyde). I’m not sure why I stuck it out, seeing how good it is now comparitively. But I’m glad I stuck it out, for what the potential looks like in a year from now.