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  #1  
Old 08-12-2013
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Why do skippers yell?

In the "Mutiny a Dawn" thread we have a classic/extreme caricature of the racing skipper who is a yeller. But this feature is not at all unique to this particular boat. In fact it's so common, that it's a stereotype.



I can't tell you how many times I've been told about a captain in this way, "You should go race with Bob. He's a great skipper and don't worry he's not a yeller."

It's so common it seems, that in a two sentence bio, it must be commented on. Why is that? Is there a certain personality type (that has high blood pressure ) that gravitates to sailboat racing? Or is it the position of skipper that somehow turns a normal person into a yelling Napoleon? After all, (with the referenced thread being an exception) it is usually the Skipper doing all the yelling and not the rail-meat or fore-deck.

In our polite society the kind of behavior I've been witness to, and on the receiving end of, on boats would NEVER fly. I know at my organization if even a highly valuable employee had a vein-bulging rage fit they'd be fired that day.

There are some areas of our society where yelling is normal and expected. Drill sergeants at boot camp are one example that comes to mind. Is sailing enough like these areas of the military that it serves a useful purpose?

In families and relationships it seems specific to the family/relationship. In my family yelling was never okay. In other families it is a normal means of communication. As a consequence I probably take yelling more personally than someone from an "Irish/Italian/insert stereotype" yelling family. So at the risk of getting Freudian, is it their upbringing?

So what is it then? Why are so many racing skippers yellers?

Please discuss, and as always....


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Old 08-12-2013
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Re: Why do skippers yell?

The heat of the moment (race).
Most skippers I've raced with doesn't yell (but do sometimes raise their voice to be heard on the foredeck, whatever. We broached recently and I yelled "hang on" then.....
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Old 08-12-2013
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Re: Why do skippers yell?

I'll confess right now that I did this when I was new to the sport, but only had my wife as crew.. Although my yelling was nowhere near as bad as I've heard on other boats, it was enough for me to realize I had to change that behavior or not sail with her again- or worse, make her not interested in sailing ever. Since we then moved from Tucson (no sailing) to Charleston (year-round sailing), I can say that I overcame that little personality problem and know at least one cause- lack in ability to properly direct crew and inform them of all maneuvers while under way. We're all human, and humans make mistakes- regardless of experience. This sport can be one of the more complicated (depending on the boat), but the less experience you and your crew have on the boat, the lower your expectations should be of how smoothly things go. Our priorities are #1. safety, #2. have fun, and #3 beat at least somebody (if racing). We survived those first few months, and I think my wife realized at the time that I was in very unfamiliar territory and was willing to give me a lot of latitude as a new skipper.
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Old 08-12-2013
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Re: Why do skippers yell?

Respect!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irunbird View Post
I'll confess right now that I did this when I was new to the sport, but only had my wife as crew.. Although my yelling was nowhere near as bad as I've heard on other boats, it was enough for me to realize I had to change that behavior or not sail with her again- or worse, make her not interested in sailing ever. Since we then moved from Tucson (no sailing) to Charleston (year-round sailing), I can say that I overcame that little personality problem and know at least one cause- lack in ability to properly direct crew and inform them of all maneuvers while under way. We're all human, and humans make mistakes- regardless of experience. This sport can be one of the more complicated (depending on the boat), but the less experience you and your crew have on the boat, the lower your expectations should be of how smoothly things go. Our priorities are #1. safety, #2. have fun, and #3 beat at least somebody (if racing). We survived those first few months, and I think my wife realized at the time that I was in very unfamiliar territory and was willing to give me a lot of latitude as a new skipper.
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Old 08-12-2013
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Why do skippers yell?

I consider yelling a sign of weakness and insecurity. A quiet boat is often highly competent.

Many years ago I witnessed a powerboat owner yelling at his wife as she tried to back their 40' sport fisher into a slip. She walked off the fly bridge with the boat in reverse. He got what he deserved.
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Old 08-12-2013
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Re: Why do skippers yell?

I'm no racer but i'll throw this in here, lack of confidence in the ability as leader?, lack of clear communication skills?

I know when I got back to sailing after offroad racing i had a hard time adjust from 80-100mph across open desert to 6,7,8 kts across open water, for the first several months I found myself trying to preload my suspension at the base of every swell and being really frustrated at not getting air.

So maybe it's fraustration at not reaching or maintaining a pre-concived level of preformance
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Old 08-12-2013
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Re: Why do skippers yell?

We have a rule on our boat. If it is important and time sensitive, yell. Applies to all persons on board.
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Old 08-12-2013
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Re: Why do skippers yell?

With the exception of yelling to be heard over noise or possibly when the other person is unknowingly in danger, there is no excuse and it isn't necessary. Hand signals or headphones work much better. I've seen quite a few boats where the helmsman and crew do perfectly well in silence using hand signals. I also like the idea of the headphones on larger boats.
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Re: Why do skippers yell?

Well, why does anyone yell?

The purpose of racing is usually winning, which means the skipper has entered a competition for the purposes of competing and presumably winning, and probably put a lot of money into it (whatever "a lot" means to them) since you win races by having the best crew and the best stuff, and stuff costs money. You can't buy luck but that of course helps too.

So perhaps it is just that the Type-A personalities pick the sport where they can make a big deal of competing and winning, and the quieter folks are finding something else to do. Like, cruise.

I'd think you have cause and effect mixed up: Not that racing skippers yell, but that yellers captain racing boats.
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Old 08-12-2013
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Re: Why do skippers yell?

I think yelling has a purpose. I yell at my work crew if there doing things wrong. If you over do it, yelling has no effect. Coaches,generals or other people in charge yell. I also use yelling on my dog. Sometimes a low growl pitch to show I'm mad. Other time a high pitch for play. YOU CAN EVEN YELL WHEN YOU WRITE!!!!
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