Assessing leadership for offshore sailing

Published on March 11th, 2021

In November 2020, Storm Trysail Club’s Seamanship Committee virtually gathered 90 accomplished leaders from within – and outside – the sailing world for its Offshore Sailing Leadership Symposium.

World-class sailors, military officers, mountaineers, Merchant Marine officers, public health experts, and business executives worked together to better understand and promote a culture of safety and leadership in offshore sailing and to recommend improvements to Safety at Sea training and education.

Their collective achievements include America’s Cup campaigns, summiting Mount Everest, commanding a US Navy nuclear submarine, solo and crewed circumnavigations, and combating Ebola and Covid-19.

“Until recently, however, the concept of ‘Leadership’ has been largely ignored while the use of safety-related equipment and specific maneuvers – such as recovering crew overboard – have been emphasized. Yet Leadership is the glue that holds it all together,“ explained Event Chair Rich du Moulin.

“Good leadership minimizes the chance of a dangerous situation, and when something does go wrong offshore, good leadership maximizes the chance for a satisfactory outcome. This comprehensive analysis includes observations and recommendations for leadership that have terrific applicability to handling challenges in business and other non-sailing situations.”

Findings coming out of the seminar include:
• The skipper/owner is ultimately accountable.
• The implications of leading with high character.
• Insights on selecting and training the team.
• Critical processes for planning and preparation.
• Methods of ensuring clear roles and responsibilities.
• The effects of ego on teamwork.
• Positive impacts of open communication.
• Error chain recognition and maintaining situational awareness.
• Benefits of adjusting goals and plans as conditions require.
• The importance of remaining calm in an emergency.
• How maintaining optimism is key to positive results.
• Never giving up!

The 52 page report includes links to reference material, as well as a number of personal sea stories that bring to life actual crises, and the attendant learnings. Particular attention is paid to recommendations on how best to develop leadership qualities in young sailors, and identifying leaders among crews.

To read the report, click here.

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