Harken Derm

Best agents in growing our sport

Published on February 11th, 2019

by Robert Nutter, Chair, 2019 Bayview Mackinac Race
We are entering the time of year when owners start thinking about assembling their crew for the season. Some owners grow their crew with the purchase of the boat and others rotate people through positions looking for the perfect team chemistry over the season.

Beyond crew assembly, owners also educate their crew on safety, position responsibility, and communication on the boat.

I’ve had the good fortune to crew with the same owner for over 12 years. My skipper would use the first part of every racing day for a safety meeting. This meeting included man overboard review and sometimes hands-on practice and review of where the first aid kit is located. We would also review crew member responsibilities.

I was a bowman for many years, and after some pointed feedback from the skipper, I did my best to anticipate tactical decisions before they were called to the bow such as sail changes, gybe sets, staysail use, and spinnaker changes. This learning process was not possible without talking with the skipper before each race to determine what his plans were for the race that day.

I also got into the habit of checking sails after each race day and repairing what I could or sending to the sail loft for repair before the next race. An active debrief at days end is always a good idea. An active debrief right after the race on the dock helps the team come together and improve for the next race.

We also need to actively recruit new people to the sport. There are always people looking to crew from yacht club learn to sail programs including junior sailors. I was recruited at a Christmas party after having stopped sailing for long time. The person took a risk in asking and it helped me get back into sailing and grow as a crew member. We are all the best agents in growing our sport.

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