There’s nothing like a yacht race on “Eve” as a team building exercise. Everyone will have a job and smooth co-operation is essential. Not only that but it’s a lot of fun and there’s always a few things that go wrong so plenty of material for post-race performance reviews over a few beers or wine. Here’s what to expect:
- A harbour twilight race usually lasts about 2 hours (depending on the wind) plus an hour before the race for practice and an hour after the race for celebrations (if we win) or commiserations (if we dont). So at least 4 hours on board starting at about 4pm in the afternoon. It’s a half day charter and includes soft drinks and a few beers / wines after the race. You can also fly your corporate flag for a bit of marketing on the water.
- A full day regatta or short ocean race (offshore) usually lasts 3 or 4 hours plus a couple of hours before the race for practice and to get to the start line - and a couple of hours after the race to get back to base and celebrate / commiserate. So around 8 hours on board and typically starting around 10 am. It’s a full day charter and includes lunch, soft drinks and one or two beers / wines after the race. Corporate colours can be flown.
The positions - everyone will have a chance to work at least one of these positions during the race.
- The helm : You’ll be steering the boat (not at the start - that’s too dangerous). You’ll learn how to keep the boat powered when sailing to windward. it’s harder than you think and there’s only a few degrees of error before you are either losing ground by sailing “too low” or losing power by sailing “too high”. You’ll also have to know the rules of the road (err - water) so that you know when to give way and when to keep your course when on a collision course with other boats. But dont worry - our skipper will take over if things get a bit hairy.
- The navigator : You are the course master. You’ll need to know the planned course around various marks in the harbour and will advise the crew of distances to the next mark and whether to pass it to starboard or port. You’ll also keep an eye out for other boats in our division (our competitors that we want to beat) and any collision risks.
- The main sheet : You’ll be adjusting the mainsail position to keep the boat at maximum power. Letting the sail out as we run downwind and pulling it in as we head upwind. You’ll work closely with the helmsman to keep the mainsail trimmed just right so that there’s minimum “weather helm”.
- The mizzen sheet : A baby version of the mainsheet - but no less critical to a successful race!
- The jib sheet trimmers : This is a two person job during a tack or a gybe because one person needs to release on one side of the boat and the other will pull on the other side. The jib sheet has the heaviest load (up to several tons) and so these are the biggest winches on the boat. Fortunately they are electric so you just push a button - but very carefully!. When not tacking or gybing then the job sheet trimmer on the loaded side will be continuously trimming the jib (in and out) for maximum power.
- The runners : The running backstays support the mast and stop it “pumping” when under heavy load. There’s always one tight runner (the windward one) and a loose one (the leeward one) but they need to be changed over on every tack and gybe.
- The hydraulics : “Eve” has a number of hydraulic controls. The “backstay” bends the mast to change the shape of the mainsail. The “vang” holds down the boom when running downwind. The “outhaul” flattens the mainsail (upwind) or gives it more “belly” (downwind). You’ll be responsible to manage and adjust the backstay, vang, and outhaul during the race.
- The mast : when “Eve” is running dead downwind then we will need to “pole out” the jib to make it fly on the other side of the boat from the mainsail. If we didn’t then we’d lose power when running downwind because the mainsail would shade the jib from the wind. The mast crew is responsible to lift and drop both ends of the pole (the end that’s on the mast and the end that’s attached to the sail) as we start and finish downwind runs.
- The foredeck : is a wet and dangerous job so, except when we are confident of your capabilities because we’ve sailed with you before, our crew will handle the foredeck.
Tacking (turning the boat to opposite tack through the wind) and Gybing (turning the boat to opposite tack away from the wind) will need every crew member to work in harmony. That’s all 10 roles described above working in unison. That’s team building!
And some races will include the spinnaker (the “kite”). That’s a very difficult sail to handle and so our crew will take care of setting and gybing the kite but you’ll feel the magic of a classic racing yacht under spinnaker and will have a go at trimming the kite for maximum speed.