Do you ever wonder what is being said on the top boats in any racing fleet? Do you wonder if they shout in the heat of battle, if chaos reigns (like on many boats) during those tight mark roundings? Wouldn't you like to be a fly in the companionway of the class leader, just once, to watch and listen?
Communication on board any top-notch racing program is a big part of that team's success. These sailors understand that the objective is always to minimize excess noise, maximize quality information, and help develop a calm sense of well-being among the team. So how is this accomplished? Let's take a closer look.
Most racing sailors have been instructed on what to do, but rarely on what to say. Knowing who says what to whom and when is essential. So let's start at the beginning. Idle chatter actually does have a place in every program—heading out to the racecourse or on the way in can be the perfect time to tell war stories, talk trash, and gossip. But at some point, the team has to go into race mode. On our boat, this happens at least 30 minutes or an hour before race time—that's when all the talk starts to focus on race-related information. Observations on wind patterns, current, speed, boat and sail trim, and opponents are all noted. And everyone on board is encouraged to voice his or her opinion and make suggestions. In this pre-start session, we are trying to formulate our game plan, and it is critical that everyone on the team be on the same page. There should be no doubt about what the basic strategy will be for the race.