Race 13 - Day 2
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Crew Diary - Finding one’s place on a Clipper Race Team
The dream begins on Crew Allocation Day. The Clipper Race allocates teams taking account of factors including age, gender, background, career, transferable skills, and more with the intent to create a well-rounded team. Teams determine their goals and how competitive they wish to be and what it will take to achieve these objectives, Racers’ average age is in the mid 50s, though ranging from 18 to 75 and approximately 30% are female. Results and outcomes vary.
Along with the spirit of an oceanic adventure, racers seek to get outside of their comfort zone (where all the cool stuff happens). Due to the significant cost, many participants have or had successful careers and they didn’t get there by accident. Grit, determination, focus, tenacity and quite often a Type A/dominant personality come with it. Some may also be seasoned sailors and Skippers of their own yachts. This is where it gets interesting.
Clipper Race Skippers assume complete responsibility for vessel and crew safety. Along with AQPs (First Mates) they appoint Watch Leaders to carry out operations. Command structures have existed since pirate times – thankfully methods have changed. Crew with a military background are used to operating within command structures. Compliance is NOT optional, though afterwards lively discussions and controversies have long legs.
Beyond the official chain of command, leaders emerge as well as followers. Some crew rise to challenges, others may run the other way. Common manoeuvres like gybing the code sail or flaking a sail may devolve into a cat rodeo even though we’ve done dozens – everyone is an expert. Type A dominants often don’t care to read the room to see they are actually NOT in charge and can’t possibly consider joining as an Indian – they of course must be the Chief! Obstinate and stubborn individuals may push relentlessly no matter how unsupportable their positions and the argument can become more important than the task. Regular Indians willing to help seek clear directions without yelling and may cringe amidst the chaos. Ops may go off the rails and it’s all part of the experiment.
Skills, confidence and teamwork develop yet some may never get it – thankfully we have much to talk about on watch at four in the morning. Leadership matters. Results vary. It’s all part of the Race of Your Life.