Originally posted in Sail-World.
Olympia is a Farr 1104, sailing out of the Royal Perth Yacht Club in Crawley, Western Australia.
Owned and skippered by Fons Berkhout and Graeme Martin – a Paralympic gold medal sailor – Olympia and her crew have a strong racing pedigree.
I recently caught up with Fons to find out more about Olympia, her crew and sailing program.
Tell me about Olympia.
Olympia is 42 years old, and although she’s spent the last several years of her life as a cruiser, Olympia has a solid racing pedigree. She was built out of the same mould as the 1976 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race winner, Piccolo.
We’re currently in the process of turning her back into a racer. We’ve reduced her weight by almost 2 tonne by removing unnecessary items such as her oven, davits and solar panels. We’ve also swapped a lot of heavy cruising gear around for lighter-weight racing gear, and have a new North Sails jib that has dramatically improved her pointing ability.
What is your current and planned sailing program?
At the moment we’re participating in the RPYC Frostbite Series which is every second Sunday. These short races are less competitive than summer racing and with fewer competitors – they provide a great training ground to get the team ready for the summer.
In Perth, getting to open water requires you to go under the bridges. Olympia doesn’t have a hinge on her mast, so this isn’t possible; our summer program will consist of spinnaker and non-spinnaker racing on the Swan River.
We now have a really good roster of sailors. I like to sail with at least 4 crew when we’re Jib and Main racing and with more under spinnaker. Having a crew roster that’s larger than what we need onboard means we don’t get stuck when people are away or have other obligations.
What criteria do you look for in recruiting crew?
Commitment is the most important thing to us. We’re happy to train people up, as long as they’re going to come along fairly regularly.
I understand people have other commitments, so we work to maintain a roster that’s bigger than our weekly crewing requirements.
Olympia’s crew is currently a bit or a dad’s army! That being said, it’s a great group of crew with a lot of experience between us, and we have a lot of fun on the water.
What are your top tips for maintaining a successful crew?
Don’t scream at your crew! A calm boat is most important, and if you want a regular crew, you need to look after them.
I like to ‘nourish and encourage’ my crew, helping them learn and making sure everyone feels a part of the team.
Onboard, work on playing to people’s strengths; if someone can’t do certain things on the yacht, that’s ok – we’ll get them into a position where they’re more comfortable and can provide the most benefit to the team.
Although we run a “dry” boat while racing we do have some team bonding refreshments in the pen afterwards.
Want to learn more about Olympia? You can view their yacht profile here.
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