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Competitive Sailing Sailing Sailing To Win Yacht Racing

What Is The Role of A Tactician?

Being the tactician on any boat is a high pressure position with quick thinking being a pre-requisite so it’s not a job for the faint hearted .

A tactician must be a strong leader, must be a constant motivator. They are the eyes and ears onboard so they must understand every aspect of the boat.

The tactician sets the pace on the boat and when they make the right calls the boat will perform better and the racing will be more fun for everyone. 

They need to be steady, upbeat and should only speak when they have something to say. If they are not the owner, it is important to have a good relationship with them.

The tactician must understand and work with the different personalities in the team. A lot of skippers react better when they are given options with others only wanting advice after they ask for it.  

The tactician does way more than choosing the boat’s route during a race, they also make final sail selections and call for crew rotations, so they must understand all characteristics of the boat.

It is important that the tactician has spent time steering the boat so that when a manouvre is called, they understand how long it will take, how the crew will perform and how the boat will react.

Different phases of the race require different duties and responsibilities so it is worth breaking the race down into segments. 

In the prestart, study the wind conditions and select the favoured side of the course working with the trimmers to select the right sails for the expected wind range.

In the start sequence watch other boats and how they may affect you as the start time approaches, keep the helmperson and crew appraised of what is happening and alert them to what you expect as each situation develops.

Once on the course after the start, keep the team appraised of what you are thinking so that their minds are completely engaged in the race and they are prepared as each tactical manouvre is called.

Another important job for the tactician once racing, is keeping the helmsperson focused by not letting idle chatter on the boat distract them from the job of steering.

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By Brett Bowden

Brett Bowden is an author, entrepreneur, business broker, and yachtsman. Brett is a competitive yachtsman and has competed in many races and championships around the world and still owns several boats.
Brett Bowden is the author of “Sailing To Win” and lives in Victoria, Australia.

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