Into the Storm: Lessons in Teamwork from the Treacherous Sydney-to- Hobart Ocean Race
The Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is among the most demanding sailing competitions in the world. Unpredictable seas make the 628-nautical-mile course grueling under the best conditions, but the 1998 race proved to be the most perilous to date when a sudden and violent storm struck. Winds gusted over 100 mph and monstrous 80-foot waves towered over boat masts. Six sailors perished and another 55 were saved in what became the largest search and rescue operation in Australia's history.
In the face of turmoil and tragedy, a crew of "amateur" sailors piloted their tiny vessel, the AFR Midnight Rambler, not only to the finish but to overall victory. While bigger, better-equipped yachts attempted to maneuver around the storm, Ed Psaltis and his crew made the daring decision to head directly into its path. Their triumph--perhaps even their survival--owes itself to an extraordinary level of teamwork: an alchemy of cooperation, trust, planning, and execution.
Into the Storm chronicles their nearly four-day ordeal and draws parallels to the world of business, revealing 10 critical strategies for teamwork at the edge. Illustrated with examples from the story and compelling case studies, the book sheds light on what teams need to do to succeed in tough times. Finally, Into the Storm provides resources and tools to support teams as they navigate the chaotic seas of business today.
- Hardback | 288 pages
- 62 x 90 x 8mm | 585.13g
- 15 Nov 2012
- Harpercollins Focus
- Nashville, United States
- Special ed
- colour illustrations, figures
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The boat would fly off the back of an enormous wave, and the Rambler would be suspended in midair--then drop 30 feet or more. The impact, when it came, was like crashing into cement. Then the boat would be knocked down the face of a mountainous wave, and the crew would struggle to stay alive and avoid a fatal capsize.
No one said it aloud, but they all knew that they could die in the storm. Yet in spite of their paralyzing fear, the crew held together--and they supported each other with remarkable teamwork.
Competing in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race --one of the most dangerous offshore ocean races in history--skipper Ed Psaltis and his amateur crew did more than survive the deadly storm. The AFR Midnight Rambler went on to become the overall winner of the race--the smallest boat in 10 years to win the prestigious Tattersall's Cup.
How did they do it? What enabled the Midnight Rambler team to prevail against all odds? And what can your team learn from their experience?
Recounting a heart-stopping tale of incredible teamwork, Into the Storm reveals 10 critical strategies for Teamwork at The Edge--as applicable in the workplace as on the high seas--including:
Be willing to sail into the storm. The crew of the Rambler had a fundamental decision to make: Turn around and run for shelter, or head directly into the path of the storm. To be suc-cess-ful, teams must be open to taking bold action--even though the best strategy may appear risky.
Find ways to share the helm. The crew organiz-ed a "wave spotter" system to block the spray and look ahead for approaching waves. Team members need to find places where they can add value--and take the initiative to share the load.
Master the art of rapid recovery. Teams that press the upper limits of performance will inevitably have "knockdowns" and "broaches." The crew of AFR Midnight Rambler showed an extraordinary ability to shift from survival to racing mode. To be successful, all teams need to develop the capacity to recover from setbacks quickly.
A gripping tale of triumph over adversity, Into the Storm reveals how any group, working together, can achieve the seemingly impossible.
DENNIS N. T. PERKINS is the author of Leading at The Edge and CEO of The Syncretics Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping leaders and teams thrive under conditions of adversity, uncertainty, and change. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, he successfully completed the Sydney to Hobart Race in 2006. He lives in Madison, CT.
JILLIAN B. MURPHY is Director of Client Services at The Syncretics Group. She works in the areas of leadership, executive coaching, and team effectiveness.
Back cover copy
Many bigger, better-equipped boats tried to maneuver around the storm, but the crew of the AFR Midnight Rambler chose to head directly into its path. After battling mountainous waves and hurricane-force winds in the Bass Strait, the tiny 35-foot boat arrived safely in Hobart, 3 days and 16 hours later--winning the coveted Tattersall's Cup.
What were the factors underlying this incredible achievement? Into the Storm recounts the story of the Ramblers' stunning victory, and the teamwork that made it possible--revealing powerful lessons for success in today's demanding business environment. Illustrated with examples from the story and compelling case studies, this riveting adventure story provides effective methods you can use to:
Cut through the noise of the wind and waves. Inventive methods of communication enabled the Ramblers to stay cohesive in spite of deafening wind and waves. What can your team do when flooded by e-mails, voice mails, conflicting demands, and other distractions?
Remove all excuses for failure. One of the most distinctive characteristics of the Rambler crew was their focus on careful preparation. The crew spent hours practicing maneuvers so they could do them in the toughest conditions--in rough seas, and at night. Winning teams devote extensive time and energy to preparation, leaving nothing to chance.
Deal with the things that slow you down. Conflict is a natural occurrence in any group, but it can be productive when managed appropriately. The Ramblers' tale of survival reveals techniques for dealing with the stress and tension that impair team performance.
The Ramblers' success resulted from an extraordinary blend of collaboration, trust, planning, and execution. Into the Storm equips you with the tools to overcome daunting odds and win your team trophy.
Table of contents
Map of the Sydney to Hobart Race vii
Preface: At The Edge ix
The Role of the Leader xv
PART ONE The Story of the AFR Midnight Rambler and the Sydney to Hobart Race 1
1 The Everest of Ocean Racing 3
2 The Patriarch of a Sailing Family 12
3 Nuzulu and the Start of a Winning Team 15
4 The Midnight Rambler-A One-Off Boat 26
5 The Ramblers-Run-Up to the Race 29
6 The Aussie Competitors 34
7 Sayonara-The Big Yank Tank 39
8 Uncertain Weather-Buster or Bomb? 43
9 AFR Midnight Rambler-And They're Away! 47
10 Sayonara-The Best Professional Sailors on the Planet 52
11 AFR Midnight Rambler-Smokin' 55
12 Sayonara-Temporary Humility 60
13 An Ominous Forecast-Storm Warning 64
14 AFR Midnight Rambler-Hard or Squishy? 69
15 VC Off shore Stand Aside-A Twist of Fate 76
16 Rescue from the Sky-Angels on Winches 81
17 AFR Midnight Rambler-Hell on White Water 89
18 AFR Midnight Rambler-Sharing the Helm 96
19 Sword of Orion-Out of Control 104
20 General Mayday-An Official Catastrophe 113
21 AFR Midnight Rambler-Listen to That 119
22 Sayonara-Tack the Boat 126
23 AFR Midnight Rambler-A Commanding Position 130
24 Sayonara-A Thousand Years 136
25 Go the Rambler! 139
26 Wake of the Storm 144
27 Blue Water, Short Ocean-The Ramblers' Record of Sustained Success 148
PART TWO Critical Strategies for Teamwork at The Edge 155
28 Introduction to the Strategies 157
29 The Research Challenge 160
30 My Hobart 165
31 Team Unity: Make the team the rock star. 170
32 Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Remove all excuses for failure. 179
33 Balanced Optimism: Find and focus on the winning scenario. 187
34 Relentless Learning: Build a gung-ho culture of learning and innovation. 195
35 Calculated Risk: Be willing to sail into the storm. 206
36 Stay Connected: Cut through the noise of the wind and the waves. 217
37 Step into the Breach: Find ways to share the helm. 223
38 Eliminate Friction: Step up to conflict-and deal with the things that slow you down. 229
39 Practiced Resilience: Master the art of rapid recovery. 236
40 Tenacious Creativity: Never give up-there's always another move. 241
A Note to the Skipper 245
The Parts of a Sailboat 250
About Dennis N. T. Perkins
JILLIAN B. MURPHY is the Director of Client Services at Syncretics.