Refine the plan, Improve the fun

Published on May 27th, 2020

While traveling will be curtailed in 2020, Quantum Sails’ Travis Odenbach still has some good suggestions in this report for the J/24 Class Newsletter on how to make regattas easier and more fun for everyone.

I like to think back on past years and reflect on what worked and what didn’t work in regattas or with teams I sailed with. This process helps me improve and move forward in the year to come.

In a perfect world, we’d sail with the same people at every event. Our teams would become almost machine-like, and with little communication needed, prepare for a regatta. But the truth is, this is not a reality for most teams in the J/24 Class, so if you can’t sail with the same team every single regatta, what should you do?

In the J/24 Class, I’ve learned to create a list of 10 to 15 people with whom I can build a team. I look at weights, sailing ability, and, most importantly, compatibility. Making sure that everyone gets along and more or less thinks the same way will get you off to a good start and ensure you have a good time at the regatta.

Once you find a team of compatible people, then look at weight and skill level to decide who will be doing what on the boat. With your team identified, you can get down to the nuts and bolts of the program−the stuff that makes your team work and makes it easy for everyone to focus on sailing and having fun.

For years I arrived at regattas early to get the whole boat set up and launched by myself. By the time the actual regatta began, I was cranky, tired, and pretty much burned out. I started to realize there had to be a better way. Sure enough, there was.

Through good communication with my team, we started to spread out the jobs based on all kinds of skill levels, not just those that pertain to sailing. This was a big change to the program. Skills also include cleaning the boat, tuning the rig, shopping for food, and checking into the house, among others.

We started to pick our jobs in advance of the regattas. One person took care of food every day, two people rigged the boat, two others cleaned the boat and one person made sure the sails were ready to go. Everyone pitched in. Whether we were at a Worlds or a District regatta, the process became easier and the team stayed energized and excited to sail.

My tips to make your 2020 season easier and more fun:
1. Find a team that is compatible with each other.
2. Assign a job to each crew member, from cleaning the boat, organizing sails and rigging the boat to filling up water bottles and making sure the crew has food for the day.
3. Try to arrive to the event as a team. After all, this is a chance to sail and spend time with friends. It also makes life so much easier.

In my opinion, sailing is the greatest team sport in the world. We all sail because we love it and want to improve. I truly believe that incorporating these tips will not only help your sailing season improve, but also make it more enjoyable. Remember to enjoy sailing for the reasons you got into the sport in the first place: friends, competition, and traveling!

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