Crewing

We teach people to helm boats on this course. When I was 15 - before half of you were born I imagine - it wasn''t like that. You joined a sailing club and crewed for people. You learned to helm over a season or two because the crew was allowed to steer the boat back to the shore after the race. There were plus points to this system, but it lacks immediacy! Nowadays, with everyone learning to helm, many more people learn to sail on single handed boats and never consider anything else. That''s a pity.

Sailing is a complex sport. By the time your mind has got used to every subtlety and variation the old body is starting to give out a bit. The result of this is that sailors from 7 to 70 - and more - can enjoy sailing in the same races on even terms. Sometimes old and cunning beats young and naive, sometimes youthful brawn beats mature brain. Because there is so much to observe and assess during a race two heads are better than one. You form - ideally - a partnership, where each concentrates on different aspects of the whole challenge of the race, be it balancing and trimming the sails, or observing the changes in the wind and position of the other boats around you.

Two handed boats range from the simple - like the Enterprise and others with two sails and two people - to the more complex performance boats like (inevitably) this Cherub (below), where Claire (the crew) is not only handling a huge 3rd sail, but also doing it dangling from a wire with only her toes in contact with the boat. Both have their points. The two sail two handers - especially in inland waters - provide a platform for what can be an immensely absorbing and complex tactical match - a game of chess with 30 players and the need to sail the boat as well. On the other hand blasting from wave top to wavetop in the ultra-lightweight machines I favour is a huge adrenalin rush, but isn''t always the subtlest of tactical games. There are classes to suit everyone - and about another 50 besides!
 

 

cherub.jpg


 

Sailing two handers can immensely speed up the learning process too. In a singlehander you have really only yourself to work out what''s right or wrong, but if you sail a two handed boat with a more experienced helm or crew then you will learn far faster, because the other person will know what doing it right looks like, and can tell you. Personally I love crewing, and am much better at it than I am at helming a boat.

 

Crew Performance Appraisal

I found this ''select-a-crew guide'' in a club newsletter from 1976, when it had been cribbed from the Scorpion newsletter. It''s probably appeared in a few other places since, but I thought it bore repeating, with a few adaptations...

Could this have anything to do with the modern preference for single-handers?

Performance Factors Far Exceeds Job Requirements Exceeds Job Requirements Meets Job Requirements Needs Some Improvement Does Not Meet Job Requirements
Ability
Leaps up mast with a single bound
 
Must take a running start to leap up mast
 
Can only reach up mast when standing on foredeck
 
Crashes off foredeck attempting to reach mast
 
Cannot recognise mast much less leap up one
 
Speed
Faster than light
 
Faster than a bullet As fast as a bullet
 
Would you believe a slow bullet Shoots self in foot
 
Perseverance
Stronger than an elephant
 
Stronger than a bull
 
As strong as a bull
 
Thinks like a bull
 
Smells like a bull
 
Resourcefulness
Walks on water occasionally
 
Walks on water in an emergency
 
Washes with water
 
Drinks water
 
Passes water in an emergency
 
Communications
Talks with race organiser
 
Talks with rescue boat crews
 
Talks to himself
 
Argues with himself
 
Loses argument with himself
 
Organising Ability
Runs the sailing club
 
Would like to run the sailing club
 
Sells tickets for the club draw
 
Buys tickets for the club draw
 
    Couldn''t run a bath
 
Sailing Skill
    Wins every race he enters
 
Wins every club race
 
Once had a first place in an open
 
Doesn''t understand course
 
Hasn''t read course
 
Application to Duty
Rigs boat before helm arrives
 
Helps rig boat
 
Buys his round at the bar
 
Drinks beer bought by others
 
Drinks other people''s beer
 
Capacity for Development
Thinks he can helm best
 
Wants to helm
 
Helms in an emergency
 
Intelligent ballast
 
Dead Weight