Get your race debrief down pat
Get your race debrief down pat

Your post-race debrief is a useful tool to help continually improve your race performance.

This should be a regular part of your post-race activities. Just like de-rigging and cleaning up the yacht after a race, a short race debrief should be required before crew head off for the day.

A few hints on planning the format of your race debrief:

  • Keep it short and to the point – 10 -15 minutes should generally be sufficient;
  • Have one person – the tactician or skipper – lead and moderate the debrief;
  • Do your debrief as soon as you can after the race at a time when everyone can be focused – either on the way back to the dock or onboard after everything is packed up;
  • Take notes and record these in your race log so you can review them later and share these with any crew who were absent on the day.

Here are a few key things you might want to cover in your race debrief:

What went well in the yacht race

A great place to start your race debrief is by highlighting a few of the positive things from the day.

This commences the debrief on a positive note and can make it easier for crew to digest the ‘room for improvement’ sections, having already been given some positive reinforcement about what they did well.

Areas of improvement

Highlighting what went well also helps identify areas where there is room for improvement.

These don’t have to be major issues, but rather areas where your yacht seems to be losing ground against your competitors or where you feel that your team is not as strong as it could be.

The purpose of this is continual improvement to make yourself, your yacht and your crew as competitive as it they be.

Any incidents or mistakes

If you had an accident, injury or big issue during the race, these should be discussed during the debrief.

Talk through what happened, the cause or probable cause, how the issue was resolved, ways it could have been resolved better or faster, and how it could be prevented in the future.

It’s not about finding blame or pointing the finger, but rather finding the cause so you can educate your crew and prevent the incident or mistake from happening again.

Input from your crew

Your crew will likely have valuable input to the debrief as well, so take a few minutes to go around the crew and get their feedback from the day.

Doing this on a regular basis can also help on-board crew communications during the race. By giving crew a regular forum to voice their thoughts on the day at the end of the race, they may feel less inclined to do so in the heat of the moment during the race.

Your next race, training or work day

At the end of the debrief, set crew up for the next event by reminding them about scheduled upcoming races, boat work or training days.

This is a good reminder and chance to make sure there are no unforeseen conflicts (“Whoops, I forgot it’s my cat’s birthday next week!”).

It’s also a chance to incorporate what you’ve just discussed in the debrief, such as an identified area of improvement that you’ll focus on in a training day, or some work to be done on the yacht.