Guest Policy

Imported Race Crew: Roles, Responsibilities and Etiquette

kurtz_SBA4967Perhaps one of the most difficult jobs for the captain of the racing superyacht is the management and integration of the temporary race crew on board.  On one hand, the captain is expected to empower these talented racing sailors to enable his boat go faster and race smarter than the competition. On the other, this captain must ensure that the comfort and safety of the owner, crew and guests onboard and the safety of the yacht itself is never compromised.  There is a delicate balance between these two responsibilities and the captain of the yacht must be prepared to carry out his responsibilities, ideally with the support of the owners and the temporary race crew.  Years of superyacht racing has shown that this has not always been the case. Sometimes the dynamic tension and conflict between the afterguard’s urge to win and the captain’s concern for safety come to the fore. In superyacht racing, with yachts weighing hundreds of tons, there can be no conflict when it comes to the issue of safety. When there is any doubt, all members of the afterguard must be willing to take the prudent safe course of action, even when it results in compromising competitive advantage. That is why it is essential that everyone understand, in advance, who has the final word and authority when it comes to the safe maneuvering of the yacht.

The difference in opinion can sometimes be subtle; therefore, it is essential that the captain and the entire afterguard develop trust and understanding before any critical calls are made.

Some observations from recent regattas:

• Every racing sailor wants to find ways to make a yacht sail faster.  That is what he is being asked to do when invited aboard for a superyacht regatta. 

• In most cases, the experience of the racing sailor will help the crew of an infrequently raced boat to improve performance and safety.

• The presence of temporary race crew can heighten enthusiasm and enjoyment among the permanent crew.  They get to know their boat better and to maximize its potential from a speed and maneuvering standpoint.  Owners and guests can also become passionate and more inquisitive about wind, tactics and crew work.  A healthy and positive “vibe” is often developed on-board, with team work being a primary goal.

• The tricks of the trade from the successful dinghy/small boat sailor can often be applied to superyachts.  However, it is vital that every “trick” is scrutinized by the captain and the resource team he has available to him (naval architects, rigging rope suppliers and sailmakers), because of the enormous loads generated onboard superyachts. 

• Paid race crew want to be invited back and therefore will perform according to the guidelines set forth by the captain and owner.  For this reason it is vital that the permanent captain on board establish the guidelines before the temporary race crew arrive.

• Most, but not all, temporary race crew understand that large, primarily cruising sailing yachts have limitations.  The limitations of the particular yacht must be highlighted and as noted in earlier sections of this manual may either be improved upon or accepted.· Temporary race crew can sometimes become frustrated by the limitations inherent in cruising yachts, but these frustrations must not be vented when owners and guests are on board.

• Not all temporary race crew are fully aware of the workload of the permanent crew during these superyacht events.  Long before the race crew arrive in the morning and depart in the afternoon, the permanent crew is cleaning, polishing, cooking, ironing, serving and much more.  Therefore, it is vital that the temporary race crew understand the very high work load and fatigue factor of their host crew and that the temporary crew respect this reality and offer assistance in achieving the numerous goals each yacht has when attending a superyacht regatta.

*excerpt from Captain Jonathan Kline’s Racing Safety Manual