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Delegating Crew Responsibilities

Published on January 11th, 2016

Americans Skip Dieball and Steve Benjamin finished 1-2 at the 2015 Etchells World Championship in Hong Kong, but approached the event with a significant difference. As they are different sized skippers, their focus to sail near the maximum allowable crew weight meant that Skip had two crew and Steve had three crew. Here they explain how that impacted the onboard responsibilities…

Skip Dieball:
skipAfter the start, Jeff Eiber (bowman) will keep tabs on the wind, what’s happening on the racecourse and talk through any strategy changes we should consider. Jon McClean (middle) helps Jeff by looking for wind variations, comparing our speed versus competitors and whether there is anything happening on the extreme sides of the course. As the driver, I focus on boat speed all the time. I prefer to trim the mainsail myself, which keeps me directly involved with managing the boat speed upwind.

Downwind, Jeff looks behind and calls puffs and traffic, while talking with me about the compass headings. As Jeff is calling puffs, he relies heavily on Jon’s feedback as he is trimming the spinnaker, so that he knows how the boat and sails are actually reacting to the wind changes. Jon is good with his non-stop race related chatter, relative pressure in the spinnaker and wind direction changes. If there are waves, like we had at the Worlds, I am focused on surfing and developing a rhythm with the waves. Jon needs to help me with the relative pressure in the spinnaker and we’ll synchronize our trim and driving to maximize the waves.

Steve Benjamin:
benjOur team (George Peet, Luke Lawrence, and Meihan Chunghas) had been working on the maneuvers with the four-person team, and prefer it. The upwind roles are (from aft working forward); the helmsman steers and keeps the boat at full speed, the tactician trims the main, the ‘4th crew’ hikes and is responsible for weight placement, and the bowman trims the jib.

On the downwind legs, after the crew is settled following the spinnaker set and our position on the run established, the bowman takes over spinnaker trimming and the tactician moves to the foredeck to look aft for wind and traffic. Except in heavy air, the tactician continues to trim the spinnaker and the bowman moves to mainsail trim once settled.

Full report…click here.

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