Sail more by finding and keeping your crew. Why do crew stay and why do crew quit? Here are some easy ideas to help catamaran and dinghy sailors build good teams.
Like Your Crew? Contact Him or Her!
Nothing says we’d like you to be part of our team, more than genuine interest in a person. Be sure to ask for the contact info (email and phone) for a crew you like and contact them directly with the DATE AND TIME that you want to sail next. Follow up with prospective crew members, call them or email them, send a reminder a couple days before to ensure that you’ve got a team. And remember, if you don’t contact that crew, that crew might hook up with another skipper who needs crew!
Reliable crew members gravitate towards reliable skippers. Show up early or on time. Be consistent about racing. Don’t show up and change your mind or show up late. Remember that you like people to respect your time, so respect your crew’s time as well. New crew members will follow your lead, so setting a good example is important. Likewise if a crew member is late 2 or 3 times or cancels 2 times, they are not going to be reliable crew members. Don’t worry, call the person and let them know that the situation isn’t working out and let them know you are going to move on to another crew.
Women Crew Like Groups
Female crews are lighter, but women in general prefer to be part of a group or come with a friend. You are more likely to lose a woman crew member who doesn’t feel like she belongs within the group. Be sure to introduce her to other women crew members. We’ll help her meet the others within the group.
New Generations All Taller AND Stronger
Also keep in mind that each generation of crew members tends to weigh a bit more than the previous generation. Commenting on someone’s weight, especially if you intent the comment to be constructive, is not only impolite, in regards to sailing, it can be considered downright offensive and needlessly cruel. Please remember that we’re not professional crew members, we’re here to sail and have fun.
One of the Olympic sailors that I interviewed recently mentioned that she has all junior / youth and adult dinghy sailors trade places and learn the other person’s job. She noticed that competitive crew that learn helming basics tend to commit to longer campaigns. In light wind, start by giving crew members the main and you take the tiller, then trade and give them the tiller and you take the helm. The final step is to give the crew both, of course, when they are ready.
Weigh-In the Price
Did you realize that we are asking adult crew to spend $420 for a membership after only three sails? Also consider the younger the adult the more likely they are on a tight budget. Even University students are looking at $297 for a membership. And our peak, warm-sailing season runs seven to eights months roughly October to April. Committing to sailing with that person for the full season when they are ready to commit to membership, means you don’t shop for a new crew after they have paid their dues! This saves you time and money and increases your fun time!
Mention the Members Only Advantages
When you talk to prospective crew members, promote the other advantages of membership; like more months of sailing by going winter sailing with cruisers, using training boats for fun-practice sails, or getting discounted sailing lessons. You might even help them sort a casual, BBQ with fellow sailors before or after sailing (that may include where to get a key to the bathrooms and how to work the BBQ & lights).
In Heavy Wind, Sail Heavy
The minimum weight of 129 kg / 285 lbs was intended to make racing fair for the average conditions and the average 1970’s sized adults. Nedlands often has above average wind, so consider sailing heavy in heavy wind conditions. You will likely find the added strength and weight of the heavier crew helps you manage the boat. Keep in mind that the 2000’s adults average size are bigger than what it was 30 years ago, so they’re easier to find.
Hobie-Derby and Swim Lessons
Beginner skippers are more likely to have crew changes, because capsizing, hitting another boat or mark, and being at the back of the fleet can be exhausting and miserable for a new crew. If you are having trouble “keeping the pointy side up,” or regularly dump your crew in the water, consider a tougher, experienced crew or crew with skippering experience. A few of the recreational and returning skippers have expressed interest in teaming up and helping out.
If your crew or skipper is out with an injury or cold, consider becoming a crew for a less experienced skipper. One of the best ways to keep our fleet big and developing new teams, is by sharing our knowledge. This goes for skippers helping new skippers learn as well as crew helping new skippers focus on helping. The more we sail, the better we get and the more fun we will be when we find that long-term team.
Written by: Shauna McGee Kinney
Special thanks to: Melissa Slowig for additional content
Edited by: Rebecca Feinstein
Rebecca Feinstein is a technical writer and technical editor. Rebecca and Shauna worked together while members of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) Los Angeles Chapter during 2000 to 2003. Rebecca is actively involved as the 2012 Secretary of the Orange County chapter of STC. She works as a contract editor and writer for public utility companies, medical and insurance companies in Los Angeles and Orange County, California. Her skills include documenting business procedures and proprietary business software. She works with PerthWrite editing copy for business and engineering companies in Alaska, California and Perth. Rebecca has a practical sense of writing. She respectfully preserves and streamlines the words her clients use. More information is available about Rebecca’s services at http://feinwriting.com/