Heading into a weekend of Vanguard 15 team racing, I hadn’t considered the possibility that I might drive a couple of races. As a crew, I enjoy the occasional crew race during practice or the chance to drive back to the beach after evening races, but I never expected to get the opportunity to drive during a weekend team race regatta. At the Rhode Island Team Race Association’s 2v2 Random Pairs Team Race, I got my chance. Based on our results from Saturday’s 2v2 series, regatta organizers formed our teams for 3v3 racing on Sunday. My team, hovering around a .500 record midway through the first round robin on Sunday, decided to make the switch. We convinced two other teams to race against us with their crews at the helm and went undefeated in our two crew races with big Play 1 wins.
While it was great to win, the crew races most importantly, and quite simply, made the event more fun. Smaller, more informal events like this one are the perfect occasion to mix it up. And crew races aren’t just for kicks. Crews that can skipper and skippers that can crew have a better understanding of everything sailing-related. Crews at the helm can work on where to place tacks, when to accelerate and how to defend laylines at the start. Skippers get the big-picture view of racing from the front of the boat, gaining insight into changing tactical situations and racecourse conditions while analyzing sail trim and boatspeed. So if you’re looking for a way to make your team stronger, or if the sailing simply gets monotonous, it’s about time you made the switch.