The Classic Boat Company was approached by a group of 15 enthusiastic friends and family members who wanted to spend a day sailing on the south coast of England – they wanted to include a competitive element and as much participation as possible. Just a few had a limited amount of sailing experience, most had none!
We arranged a full day on the water in early July using our classic 6-metre sailing yachts Abu and Silvervingen. The group also chartered the chase boats and a large, comfortable motor launch ‘team’ boat. We chose a quiet bay off the coast of the Isle of Wight, in the sheltered waters of the Solent, and once a short racecourse was set up and using the team boat as a committee boat, we had everything we needed for a successful day on the water.
To crew the yachts, we made sure that each sailing boat had a number of professional sailors on board, who knew the boats well. Everyone else was tasked with specific roles that were within the limits of each person’s individual capability. This created a mood amongst the crew that was active, energetic and participative – the scene was set.
First thing in the morning, once everyone was on board the team boat, we provided a detailed briefing session including an overview of how the day would run. We also served fresh coffee and a light breakfast. To kick things off, we split the participants into four teams and ran a series of on-the-water training sessions and preliminary heats. This led up to a grand final later in the afternoon, which was hotly contested. The professional sailors did everything necessary to ensure that everyone had fun, felt challenged, but also felt safe.
Everyone had a fantastic day and the feedback was very positive; competition noticeably ratcheted up over the course of the day as the teams increased in confidence and learned how to operate together effectively as a team.
The environment was great, too. Osbourne House, a landmark Victorian castle in the bay, provided an extraordinary backdrop and the island provided shelter and security from the open ocean. The team boat was on hand to provide lunch (which was enjoyed immensely) as well as for teams to observe and cheer on their rivals when not racing.
The day concluded with a prize-giving ceremony back on dry land. The atmosphere buzzed with enthusiasm and it was evident that everyone felt a sense of accomplishment, both on an individual level and as a cohesive group. The experience had not only imparted valuable lessons about personal growth but also deepened the bonds among all participants.