What Can Merchant Mariners Learn From Volvo Ocean Race Sailors? Last month gCaptain was invited by John Mangano, Key Account Manager – Coastal & Navy for International Paint, to Newport, Rhode Island to board the Volvo Ocean Race 65 boat and meet the crew of Team AkzoNobel. While there, I sat down for an interview with watch captain Chris Nicholson and boat captain Nikolai Sehested to discuss what some consider the most challenging sports event in the world. Six days after the interview, AkzoNobel made sailing history by breaking a world speed record as the first team to exceed 600 nautical miles (1,111 kilometers) in a 24-hour period. Here’s my interview below: Most of the very successful offshore big boat sailors started out sailing on small dinghies. Some of the best ship pilots I’ve worked with also have vast experience in small craft. The question is why?
Formula one racers first learn in go-karts then they fine-tune their knowledge and learn new techniques before moving into larger cars. For sailors, our go-karts are dinghies. You learn the fundamentals of sailing and seamanship better on dinghies because small boat sailing forces you to get the basics sorted out from the start. The best sailors are those who can learn the finer skills aboard small boats and transfer that onto big boats. How do the best sailors transfer those skills from small to large vessels? It takes discipline and structure. You must pay attention to detail and figure out what makes you successful on dinghies then develop a plan and work hard to translate those skills to big boats. The best sailors can deconstruct intuitive processes they learned racing small boats and project them forward. No, it is rare. We see them on AIS. They are large so we can see them in the day and most are well-lit at night. Shipping only becomes a problem for us in heavy traffic areas but we always have men on deck looking out so we have good awareness of the traffic around us. You guys are pushing the envelope with the most modern equipment and materials which you sail at high speeds through heavy weather. How do you prevent equipment failure? What Can Merchant Mariners Learn From Volvo Ocean Race Sailors?