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How to defuse tension amongst crew

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clipperRTW View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote clipperRTW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: How to defuse tension amongst crew
    Posted: 11 Aug 13 at 1:14pm
I'm going on the Clipper round the World https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/ and have a task to find some good information on defusing tension/fights between crew.

How do you keep it harmonious amongst crew?  Any issues that need to be discussed before we set off?

Our boats will be filled with loads of beginners and few experts, a crew of 21 (from a pool of ~60) that don't really know each other well.  We are racing 24/7 and will be in each other's space for a month at a time.

Thanks for your help!

m
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winging it View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote winging it Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Aug 13 at 5:57pm
Have a pre race meeting where you agree principles of good behaviour, set a few rules and agree a sort of 'conract' to be adhered to.

Experts need to be recognised for their expertise, but that doesn't mean they can patronise newbies
Newbies must be encouraged to ask when they don't understand, and to be aware it is safer to ask the 'stupid question' tha to blunder on in ignorance.
Experts need to know newbies will sometimes need to ask stupid questions.
People must feel able to say when they feel things are building up.  Easier to nip tension in the bud than let it fester.   At the same time, people have to realise space - physical and emotional - is tight, and they need to rationalise and be tolerant.
Common goals should be established and it must be understood everyone is working towards those goals.
the same, but different...

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Post Options Post Options   Quote clipperRTW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Aug 13 at 11:54am
Thanks Winging it
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Quagers View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Quagers Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 13 at 8:43am
Having common goals and expectations often goes a long way to defuse the tension. With the clipper you will those who want to win and those who want to get round. The first group will want to push hard and have some discomfort whereas the 2nd will want things easier, which causes tension.

Not much you can do about this on clipper as people are paying rather than being selected as opposed to a normal race crew where this stuff is discussed as the crew is being formed but being aware of it my help.

Also on offshore boats a perception that someone isn't doing their share of the work is an absolute killer and causes all sorts of problems.

Finally with a boat that large there will be personality clashes within the crew, its unavoidable. If there is its better to accept this and work around it rather than trying to force everyone to get along.

Edited by Quagers - 16 Aug 13 at 8:46am
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ASok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 13 at 9:18am
Originally posted by Quagers

Also on offshore boats a perception that someone isn't doing their share of the work is an absolute killer and causes all sorts of problems.



This is a good one. I've taken mixed ability groups over the channel. Not far and not for very long, but tension can brew if people are seen to be slacking. Everyone should be made aware of roles and responsibilities. Its a team sport so everyone has to pull together.

Little things like getting on watch 5-10mins late, leaving the other watch waiting for their bunks can start to grate very quickly. This is one for watch leads or skippers to keep an eye on and have a quiet motivational word.

When all else fails, I've found that a secret stash of fruit pastilles can often raise the mood.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Peaky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 13 at 9:26am
Originally posted by Quagers

Also on offshore boats a perception that someone isn't doing their share of the work is an absolute killer and causes all sorts of problems.



You just need to to read the navigators log from the recent Transpac for a perfect demonstartion of this!

Mutiny at Sea
I'm sure your trip will be much better...
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iGRF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote iGRF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 13 at 11:46am
Originally posted by Peaky

Originally posted by Quagers

Also on offshore boats a perception that someone isn't doing their share of the work is an absolute killer and causes all sorts of problems.



You just need to to read the navigators log from the recent Transpac for a perfect demonstartion of this!

Mutiny at Sea
I'm sure your trip will be much better...


OMG.. worse than my brief foray into being crew to an inferiorly knowledgedt**t..
I could write similarly humourous log, makes you wonder how these types ever get seaborne and survive it all.
Well I guess it doesn't really they rely on the sufferance of folk who know what they're doing and are polite to a point..
Unbelievable.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote clipperRTW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 13 at 12:27pm
Thanks Quagers.  Having only 3 one week long training sessions before our race did help get everyone more mentally ready.  The first training week session felt like the hardest as you had a mix of completes novices (me) and people with their own boats and highly knowledgeable. There was tension on the 'not pulling your weight' feeling between crew as racing 24/7 is such a crucible with everyone being tired from 4 hours on/off sleep and work schedule, the pain and soreness of our bodies, even the fresh foods running out, basically lots of things that added to the stress.

That said, the Clipper crews are whittled down and interviewed to ensure to good compatibility.  It was (I assume) the opposite of a Big Brother or other reality show casting where you want sparks to fly for our viewing entertainment.  Plus, you aren't guaranteed to go forward to the race if you don't make it through training (can be due to attitude, not sailing skill) which the skipper is in charge of.

In the first training week I did want to quit until about the 3rd day when I could finally start being more productive, plus getting support from other more knowledgeable crew on what to do, how to fold sails, make knots, work the grinder, etc...  At first I thought the skipper was mean but really they were like the best personal trainer ever, one who pushes you to your limit and keeps you there, so by the end of the week I was capable of doing most sailing roles confidently.

By the third training session, everyone was very capable in many/all racing roles.  I think this was much more the true insight into what it will be like, although one week training is not the same as 6 weeks racing.  Most tension or personality clashes are sorted simply from being so tired, really thoroughly exhausted, that all you think about is the race, eat some food, get to sleep.  

Thanks for your reply, very helpful!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote clipperRTW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 13 at 12:28pm
I will be definitely sending the fruit pastilles recommendation up the chain!  Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Quote clipperRTW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Aug 13 at 12:30pm
Thank you! Great to have an example to pass around, very helpful!
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