Sailing For Success – On the water Team building

Sailing jobs

It is widely accepted that happy employees = better business performance. Happy employees feel valued, motivated and empowered to seek out solutions to business challenges. They are happy to ask advice from team mates, and support each other in decision making and achieving deadlines.

To help keep this machine well-oiled it is important to make sure business processes are in place, but it is equally important to look after the human element. That is why regular teambuilding events are vital to success.

On the Water Teambuilding for Visible Results.

Sailing for Team Building
Sailing Team Building Days – Photo credit Paul Wyeth – Britannia Corporate Events

A teambuilding day is an opportunity to create space away from the usual working environment to focus on improving the way people interact with each other, help your team get to know each other better and foster a supportive environment.

One of the best team building activities is yacht sailing. A team of 8-10 on board a 40 foot sailing yacht have to learn to work together simply to get the boat moving, so not only is it obvious when the team is pulling together but it is a brilliant, fun day out!

Your team will have to listen to the skipper’s instructions to understand their role in the bigger picture, they need to perform their own role but simultaneously communicate clearly with their team mates. As the yacht gains speed, the wind-noise makes conversation harder, so clear communication is key – using words that sound different and avoiding instructions which could be mis-interpreted (such as “Go!” and “No!”).

Britannia Corporate Events, a specialist provider of company team building days describes a typical team building sailing day “No experience is necessary and mostly teams are complete novice sailors. From the moment the team step onboard the usual office hierarchy dissolves and everyone has a chance to be equally involved, learning something new. The smiles and obvious camaraderie at the end of the day really say it all!”

A Level Playing Field

Most crews don’t have any previous experience, creating a level playing field; so everyone is learning the ropes, quite literally.

Every yacht has two professional sailors onboard to keep an eye on safety and make sure no-one gets hurt. So after a hearty breakfast and a yacht safety familiarisation, the teams are settled in and ready for action.
Britannia uses racer-cruiser yachts. This means that whilst they are comfortable on board (complete with mini kitchen and bathroom) they are designed to be sailed by a team.

One of Britannia’s regular skippers Charlie smiles as he notes “Quite often the quietest person in the office really comes out of their shell. Junior people who may have never met or even spoken to senior managers are communicating effectively as equals. You can see the barriers breaking down – and you know that on the return to the office that junior person will have far more confidence.”

Communication, Co-ordination and Timing

Sailing Days for Corporate Team Building
Photo Credit Paul Wyeth – Britannia Corporate Events

So how does sailing develop team work? Consider the first ‘simple’ task of the day – hoisting the mainsail. This requires co-ordination between several of the team; the ‘mast-man’ will pull on the main halyard (rope) so that the ‘pit-person’ can winch it in quickly. The pit-person needs to give feedback to the mastman regarding the speed to make sure their timing is in sync. Meanwhile the person on the ‘helm’ (steering) doesn’t touch the sails, but it is essential they drive in a nice straight line otherwise the wind will fill the sails and make the job so much harder for everyone else!

Finally a 4th person with a better view will look up and keep the rest of the team updated on how much more they need to do; “Nearly there!”, “a little more!” – this continuous feedback is invaluable and allows the other 3 to focus on their roles.

Everything is a team effort, and the day is spent learning and perfecting sailing manoeuvres; working together and improving communication throughout. Everyone will rotate roles during the day to help develop empathy and trust between team mates as well as keeping the day interesting and fun!

A Racing Element

The format of the day can be adjusted to suit the group; choose to maximise time on the water with a packed lunch on board, or pop into picturesque Cowes on the Isle of Wight for a lunch ashore. For groups of more than 10 people, the group is split into teams for a race in the afternoon.

The racing is great fun, and provides an opportunity for each team to put their new skills into practice – to not just work together, but work well as a high performing team to win the race!

The Evidence

Dreams Ltd (the bed retailer) took their new management team on a teambuilding day on a Britannia First 40. The team hadn’t been working together as well as they needed to, and after their day Mike, the CEO reported “In a business turnaround situation it is vital to get the leadership team working together quickly, this was time well spent and we learnt more about each other in 1 day than the previous 2 months.”

Likewise, global insurance specialist Brit Insurance took representatives from different departments and even countries on a multi-day sailing event; “Britannia were extremely professional. The event manager worked seamlessly with a number of people at Brit to establish a format which met our objectives. Our event was a huge success and working relationships have improved immeasurably.”

A Day To Remember

With or without the racing, sailing on the Solent on a beautiful yacht isn’t something most employees get to do every day! Not only is it a genuinely constructive way to improve working relationships but it also a day to remember!

Your team will talk about it for days to come and probably remember it for years. Such a positive association with work and their team mates will further enhance a positive working atmosphere with improved working relationships.

Find out more about Team Building Sailing Days

If you feel that sailing days are something that your company could benefit from, get in touch with Britannia Corporate Events for a quote for your teambuilding day out.