Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Team building?

Still some things to work out

I recently had this dream in which I got shipped off to Uruguay to take over the helm of a racing sailboat full of women amid a storm of controversy and contentiousness among the crew, the management, and just about everybody else involved …

No, wait, that’s someone else’s story. All I have to deal with is Elephant Butte Lake, not the Southern Ocean. And the metaphorical storm isn’t a major clash between personnel played out in the media as a question of whether, really, women are capable of sailing anything more than dinghies. But there are some issues.

Much has to do with conflicts in style, especially gender issues; we sailors are all women, and nearly all of the coaches are men, and there are some men-from-Mars-women-from-Venus conflicts. There is the question, for example, of how to select teams – on the one hand, we want to encourage participation and get as many women as possible to come out and sail and train, so we want to have women working on various positions and not select the teams too soon and exclude people; on the other hand, we have less than three months left to train, and having teams fairly solidly selected is important so that whichever women do end up sailing in the race have time to work together as a team and get coordinated with each other.

There are personality conflicts as well. Some of the coaches have worked out better than others. Some have come across as arrogant (OK, there may be some truth to that in one or two cases), while others just seem to have been out of tune with the team, or not good at seeing the whole picture. There’s a challenge involved in aggressively training the sailors while not bashing their self-esteem. We want to win, and to do so, we are going to have to take some punishment. I don’t like what I’ve seen in some youth sports, in which, to protect the children’s fragile self-esteem, nobody wins in order that nobody loses. Face it, that’s not the way life is. However, especially with women who may not be experienced sailors, or experienced racers, or accustomed to being independent of someone telling them what to do, there’s a learning curve that has to be taken into account. We don’t need coddling, but we do need patience among our coaching staff.

Meanwhile … I suppose I ought to get around to telling about Sunday’s training. We were all out on J/24s today. Margaret, Lisa, and I were with Rich on Kachina, while Sue took JoAnn, Vicky, and Cheryl on JoAnn’s boat, and Larry, Braxton, and Mike were on Alter Ego, observing. I wasn’t at my best; I was exhausted from the day before, and I hadn’t slept well that night. But we did have a good day on the water; Rich had us working on mark roundings and spinnaker sets and the like. For most of the day, the wind was flaky, light, and coming in puffs from all directions; this is what the wind does on Elephant Butte just before it really starts howling, which is what it did for the last part of the day. We took a real pounding on the way back to the dock, and we came in under jib alone. Rich did a lot of letting us make our own mistakes, which was good if a bit disconcerting. We aren’t going to have coaches on board for the big race, so we have to learn to sail without constant advice; starting in April, we’re going to be on our own when we’re on the water.

Because of the wind and the poor condition of one of the trailers, it took some time to get the boats put away, but we got back to the Strasia compound about halfway through the second quarter of the football game. We had a fairly low-key Super Bowl party (takeout chicken and Budweiser), but that was OK since everybody was pretty well worn out. As is typical, most of the conversation was about sailing and what we did today and what’s next. One good idea that came out was having a spouse-and-boyfriend boat on hand during events and maybe even practices so the men don’t feel so left out and they can show support for us women. Pat doesn’t know it yet, but I have volunteered our MacGregor, Syzygy, for this duty.


Blogger Pat said...

Of course, for the chute-out regatta, any guys, boyfiends, hubbies, girlfriends, children, etc., placed on board will be assigned race committee duties.

P.S. for my birthday, I might want to get a bigger anchor for Syzygy in case we get committee duty on a windy day. With the center pin gone, I'd like to have something like a 25-pound anchor to keep Syzygy in place during "bumpy" stuff.

Mon Feb 06, 05:34:00 PM MST  
Anonymous andrew Teague said...

I am right there on the children's games. I think my employees played to many no-winner games growing up and don't know how to be better than the other person to get recognition.They just want me to say good job no matter how bad they are doing.

Tue Feb 07, 08:22:00 PM MST  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Andrew, I see much the same with my students, especially the ones who come straight out of high school. The idea that they have to actually earn something is foreign to them. That's part of what I like about teaching night classes -- most of these students have been out in the real world and have learned that they earn by actually accomplishing something, not by being smart enough that they could accomplish it if they wished, which seems to be the basis upon which most high-school grades are made.

I imagine that you do as I do -- you take a nice, sharp pin to that bubble of delusion and let those people know that the world pays for results, not for being smart.

Wed Feb 08, 01:44:00 AM MST  

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