Spinnaker Yachts Sailing Day … From a Psychological Viewpoint

May 21st, 2010 by Amanda Potter Leave a reply »

Having recently taken part in the successful sailing day organised by Zircon and Spinnaker Yachts I was struck by the insight into people that such a day can produce. It is recognised that placing someone in an ‘alien’ environment, such as a 41 foot yacht, out of their normal comfort zone, results in them having to focus almost exclusively on the task in hand. This takes up more cognitive resource and people tend to compensate for this by resorting to their ‘core’ behaviours, which is always worth exploring.

In order to make a yacht function, i.e. go anywhere, it is essential that all of the crew work together. This was highlighted on the recent outing, when everyone was given their individual roles and tasks on the yacht. Some were working alone, others in small teams, but all were part of the larger team. Operating like this kind of belies the common cliché that there is no ‘I’ in team, there is…each ‘I’ndividual has to carry out their own role in order for the team to function. However, this is not sufficient. To make the yacht function well, there has to be a co-ordinated effort with everyone being aware not only of what their individual role is, but where it fits within the team, both the small team and the overall team. For example, one of the key features of Spinnaker Yachts is that they will take every opportunity to use the sail that they are named after, the spinnaker. This is the large coloured, billowing sail at the front of the yacht and it takes a lot of co-ordinated effort to make it fly.

This includes 10 separate bits of rope that need to be pulled, released, fixed, trimmed etc. – if anyone of these is not manipulated in line with the others then the whole enterprise fails (and you lose the race!). It requires an awareness of the impact of your actions on others, even if you are not fully aware of the intricacies of what they are actually doing.

It was interesting to see that people who had never sailed before could communicate in a way that ensured a co-ordinated and efficient operation. It was also interesting to note that when people reflected on their own performance, and that of others, that they realised just how well they had actually functioned as a team, but also what they could do better in the future in terms of communicating, co-ordinating and appreciating others. All felt that they had learned something about themselves, their ways of working with others and how to improve their performance, not only on the yacht but in the workplace.

For further information please contact Jason Roberts or Amanda Potter.

Written by Andy McBurnie, Chartered Occupational Psychologist. Zircon Business Manager

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