Into the Storm: Lessons in Teamwork from the Treacherous Sydney-to- Hobart Ocean Race

Into the Storm: Lessons in Teamwork from the Treacherous Sydney-to- Hobart Ocean Race

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Winner of the Small Business Book Awards from Small Business Trends 2013

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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 62 x 90 x 8mm | 585.13g
  • Amacom
  • Nashville, United States
  • English
  • Special ed
  • colour illustrations, figures
  • 0814431984
  • 9780814431986
  • 719,553

Flap copy

Hurricane-force winds howled, reaching speeds of over 100 miles an hour. Waves as tall as 8-story buildings dwarfed the 35-foot sailboat, AFR Midnight Rambler. Rain and spray pelted the sailors' faces like gravel, and the screaming of the wind made communication nearly impossible.

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.
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Back cover copy

The iconic Sydney to Hobart Race, a 723-mile deepwater challenge--often called the "Everest" of offshore ocean racing--is considered one of the toughest in the world. Unpredictable weather and seas make each race demanding, but in 1998, an unexpected "weather bomb" hit the fleet, creating 80-foot waves and 100-mile-per-hour winds.

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.
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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

Acknowledgments 251

Notes 257

Bibliography 263

Index 267
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Review quote

Winner of the Small Business Book Awards from Small Business Trends 2013 ..".excellent lessons on how to form a team, manage a team and the team dynamics that work best, especially when faced with an extremely demanding challenge." --Serve to Lead "The inspiring story of this team is very applicable for any team enviornment. Into the Storm is a fun read disguised s a business book." --Networking Insights "Perkins weaves an extraordinary tale of great leadership and team work... Ultimately it's a book about human endeavour and well worth a read." --Marinews ..".a clear and concise examination of the most effective team building principles for navigating successfully through times of crisis and adversity." --Blog Business World "It is one of the most enjoyable team-building books I've read in a while...effective, compelling, and enjoyable..." --Facilities Manager A Winner in the 2013 Small Business Book Awards in Leadership ..". Perkins and Murphy draw up a list of strategies for 'teamwork at the edge' in sharing the burdens and, in the end, the rewards." --In the Black magazine "Anyone skippering a boat should buy this. Anyone involved in running a business should do likewise. I highly recommend it." --Australian Sailing + Yachting Magazine ..".a heart-stopping tale of incredible teamwork...and the power of teamwork to prevail over uncertainty, adversity, and formidable competition." --Guerrilla Project Management "And while this is an epic story with great life lessons, it has plenty of intellectual capital, too." --Life Insurance Selling ..".rich in lessons for anyone tasked with maintaining smooth, effective teamwork and delivering winning results in the unpredictable, turbulent waters of today's business environment." --Eric Jacobson, Leadership Blogger "Into the Storm is a truly great tale and wonderful read." --Mainsheet, newsletter for San Diego Yacht Club "There are many books on building teamwork, but very few are as interesting and as effective as Into The Storm." --Inland Empire Business Journal "The thrilling story... is alone worth the time of reading this book but a reader is also treated to insightful leadership strategies..." --Enter Stage Right "Perkins has created a valuable and engaging guide for any team trying to navigate the treacherous waters of its own corner of the business world." --Risk Management magazine "This book is one that you cannot put down... I really liked the format - captivating adventure followed by lessons." --CEO Blog "If you enjoy books that employ tales of extreme adventure to teach business lessons, you will find a lot of value in Into the Storm." --800 CEO Read ..".allows you to learn valuable leadership lessons as well as enjoy a gripping tale of an amazing adventure." --LifeTwo "Startups need teamwork entering the perfect storm." --Martin Zwilling, ..".effectively telling a story of how leaders can survive and win when they apply certain skills even in the most adverse conditions." --BlogCritics "It's a nail biting adventure story combined with practical advice on how to build a winning team - whether it's in sports, business or life." --Hike Bike Travel
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About Dennis N. T. Perkins

DENNIS PERKINS is the author of Leading at The Edge and CEO of 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 his first Sydney Hobart Race in 2006.

JILLIAN B. MURPHY is the Director of Client Services at Syncretics.
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