February 28

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Team Management Yacht Race Style

By Ralph Varcoe

February 28, 2019


During the BT Global Challenge yacht race in 1996/7, Mike Golding proved that a strong team can dominate. Out of the six legs, covering 30,000 miles the wrong way around the world, competing against 13 other amateur crews, Golding’s boat ‘Group 4’ won five. They came second in the other leg. Overall they won by 2 days and almost 6 hours over their nearest rival and 15 days, 13 hours over the last place finisher. The lessons learned on leadership and teamwork were captured in a book (sadly now out of print) called ‘Global Challenge - Leadership lessons from The World’s Toughest Yacht Race’. The crews were made from ordinary people who volunteered to spend 9 months competing in this gruelling event. They were all amateurs, and even paid to take part. The skippers were professional, sea-hardened sailors, with multiple circumnavigations each under their belts.

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While many of the other skippers coached their crews to perform a number of different roles on the boat, with a view to giving everyone a chance to perform multiple tasks throughout the race, Mike Golding opted for a one person, one job approach. Initially this was a cause for concern. All the members of the crew had paid a lot of money to participate, and no-one wanted to be a just galley slave for 9 months. But Mike led the team - that was his job. If he was to win the race, he needed a strong team around him.

By the time the race began on 29th September, every member of the Group 4 crew knew their jobs inside and out. The knew that their own job was as important as any other job on the boat. They had a purpose. They were drilled. They were ready. And they won - handsomely.

Mike Golding had said to his crew that the day he could stay below decks all day with nothing to do was the day he had turned them into a fully performing team. The strength of the team made the difference.

Ralph Varcoe

About the author

For over 20 years, Ralph has run sales and marketing teams across large enterprises and smaller start-ups, at companies such as Orange, Tata Communications, Virgin Media, Spirit Ai and others. He brings a wealth of experience in personal and professional development with a laser focus on enabling people to achieve more than they thought possible. He's a published author and musician with a passion for creating - be that change, the right solution, exciting campaigns, the right environment for customers to succeed, or podcasts, videos and written content.

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