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Improved Performance Through Team Function

Published on September 14th, 2015

Geoff Becker has been riding the J/70 wave since the class got launched, teaming with Tim Healy as they won the 2014 Worlds and finishing third in 2015. Here Geoff comments on how team function impacts performance…

While I am a skipper at heart, the more I sail as a tactician or trimmer, the more I appreciate the functions of the crew when I do skipper. Each person on the boat is contributing to the performance of the team, and when everyone has that outlook, the function of the team improves.

While sailing with Tim and our core team, I have learned how important the interaction between crewmembers can be to a boat’s overall performance. The amount of information that needs to be filtered on the racecourse in order to make educated decisions, is immense and has made me fully appreciate the trust required on a boat and among the crewmembers.

We have all been in a situation where the other guy isn’t pulling his weight and you or someone else needs to pick up the slack. Less apparent at the time is what is being missed when crewmembers compensate and have their attention divided. With so much going on during any given race, having each sailor on board pulling their weight allows everyone the opportunity to really excel.

Our team, having sailed together for such a long time, has developed a strong sense of trust in each member to do his job on the boat. For example, I don’t tune the rig on the J/70 when sailing with Tim. It’s not that I can’t do that job; the reality is that on our J/70 team, the rig isn’t one of my responsibilities and I have complete trust that those responsible for the rig tune will do the job properly.

That level of trust has other pretty cool effects too.

First, each of us has a smaller amount of stresses because we know all the jobs are covered. Less stress then enables each of us to do our jobs at a much higher level. Also, when someone has a problem and the performance suffers, we are able to fall back on our trust in each other to know that even though a mistake has been made, it will be quickly fixed and unlikely to happen the next time.

All aspects of the competition are made less stressful since no one is worried about making a mistake knowing our teammates are there for support. As a result, we win as a team and when we don’t, there is no blame, only a discussion of how to improve for next time.

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