Personalities in a one-design fleet

Published on April 7th, 2021

by Randall Shore
In my years as a sailmaker, when I’ve looked for a local one-design class to throw my support behind, I’ve got a list of personalities that I try and identify as the successful ingredients for fleet building. In many cases, the type of boat doesn’t even matter. Here they are…

The Flag-Waver and the Organizer:
Either one or two persons who provides the ‘rah-rah’ personality as well as the behind the scenes organization to keep things coordinated. Typically ends up as fleet captain before delegating the position out to a new generation.

The Patron:
The class passionate person who spends money to bring new boats into the fleet, either by funding the Y.C. Donation, or bringing in an old boat, fixing it up for racing, then selling it (probably at a loss) to an up-and coming sailor. This could also include the one(s) who helps finance and successful events to draw in out-of-town knowledge.

The Expert:
This is the person who has a skill set beyond what most of the sailors in the fleet possess. This could be sailing skill, boat-optimization knowledge, or just the usual race winner (or several of these people). As long as the ‘expert’ is willing to share than knowledge to improve competition, they are critical to helping the fleet develop.

The Villain:
The person who drives everybody in the fleet nuts. Common traits; overly litigious, always looking for the ‘unfair edge’, has skills sets but is unwilling to share their knowledge, etc. Obviously an optional requirement for fleet building, but I’ve found this person can actually help unify and inspire the fleet to grow in healthy ways. Hopefully not a position one aspires to.

If you look at any new successful (local) one-design fleet, I suspect you can identify each component. Those fleets who have a single individuals who try to fill several roles at once, usually burn out.

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