In previous articles, I have suggested that the best entry to sailing is a used boat around 20 feet long. They are inexpensive, portable and provide big fun-per-dollar returns on your investment. But if you just sail alone, that puts an artificial ceiling on your skill development. So I have also suggested crewing on a race boat. As crew, you should approach the skipper humble but informed. On most boats there will be a senior crew to coach new crew. Your day on the water will more rewarding if you arrive with knowledge of various work stations. “The Shape of Speed” video is a good start. Then, referring to the above diagram of a typical crewed racing boat, let’s take a look at some crew work stations.
A 35-foot boat will need six to eight crewmen to optimize performance. Some of the time it will look like they are just sitting at leisure, but when wind or boat direction changes, they all go to work. This highly choreographed movement is akin to what happens in football when the ball is snapped, and much like that looks like chaos to the untutored.
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