Online Crew Board to Connect & Recruit

Published on April 7th, 2020

Meat, meet rail. Rail, meet Meat. It’s a tongue twister for sure, but that’s the essence of John Madey and Marco Heuer’s crew-management ­website, RailMeets, which aims to take the hassle out of team building and management, and essentially put—and keep—butts on the rail. Think of it as Match.com for sailboat racers and as at least one reason why boat owners can no longer say, “I can’t find crew.”

Madey, a past Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club commodore, heard the same complaint plenty of times over the years, as did Heuer. Existing crew-finder boards are one way for sailors to connect, but Madey and Heuer felt most are limited, with “old technology and not pretty or functional.”

Madey, who races his J/92 Cyclone in the Chicago area, says Heuer came to him and said he could do better. So they went for it. The original site launched as a way to organize their crew. Word of the site spread quickly in the Lake Michigan racing scene, and the founders realized others wanted in on it too. Once they added more functionality—a crew ­organizer, crew pool and boat pool—users flocked to the site. “One neat thing is, if I’m crewing on multiple boats, I can see all of them in one spot, rather than having ­different organizers with different boats,” Madey says.

As RailMeet’s pool of registered boats (and teams) grew, so too did interest from area yacht clubs, most of which were happy to get out of the business of managing their own crew-finder portals. Some of these pages, Madey says, openly list phone numbers and emails, leaving members’ contact information vulnerable to nefarious sources. With RailMeets, he says, users must have an approved profile in the system, and connections between owners and seekers are kept private until the owner initiates the connection. Full report.

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