Spinnaker Sailing – Cowes Week 4th August 2010

September 10th, 2010 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

A bright and breezy day beckoned as we stepped aboard the ‘Esprit’ for a days racing at Cowes on Wednesday 4th August. Darrell and Richard from Zircon accompanied four Senior Commercial Directors from HSBC on the first stage of a team development programme.

The day looked promising with a fair wind and moderate seas to enable some fast yet not uncomfortable sailing. With a crew of 12 including five novice sailors, the Esprit started well and was in the leading group in the class two race. Everyone was learning their roles quickly and soon the regular tacks to keep out of the opposing tide yet off the sand banks were being executed very smoothly.

All was going well until 400 metres before a turn around a mark for the first downwind leg. A massive squall appeared from nowhere necessitating a hurried zipping up of waterproofs. The rain was so intense that the mark was lost from view until we were on top of it. Rounding the mark the spinnaker was hoisted yet the squally wind caught it and caused several twists that were impossible to shake out so the sail had to be dumped and re-hoisted.

Despite everyone pulling together to try and rectify the problem, that one minute with a twisted spinnaker lost the ‘Esprit’ a lot of ground and the rest of the race was spent playing catch up. However, the efficient teamwork continued to grow and slowly but surely ‘Esprit’ overhauled several boats. As the sun came out the wind also became unpredictable, shifting and lessening in strength in random patterns across the water. Maximum concentration was needed to avoid getting caught out in a slack spot.

The race didn’t end with a whimper though. With the finish line in sight, the sky darkened again and as the cloud rolled in so did a strong wind that not only picked up the boat and propelled it along with great speed, but also the waves as well. The last half a mile were exhilarating and with renewed momentum Esprit crossed the line a creditable 11th.

What had this experience done for the team from HSBC? “Amazing and surprising that we were actually sailing in Cowes as a competitor, how fantastic was that” said the Head of Commercial Banking. “We had used Zircon to help us facilitate our top team development and this was a fantastic way to kick start the journey. I feel that the team benefited hugely from this and I have a good platform to focus the remaining offsite days on.”

The only negatives were reported back in the form of advice for others considering team development with such an experience. “The only advice I would say is have extra padding for your knees and some small Mars bars for energy boosts as you complete the day; an experience not to be missed.”

Written by Richard Cooper, Psychologist, Business Manager and Experienced Yachtmaster!

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