Thistle Fleet Tune-up Days

By Scott Meyer, #3811

Fleet tune-up days: our approach and thoughts on how to get everyone in your fleet up to speed.

Last year we had 3 new boats in our fleet. They were new to the Thistle Class, and as anyone in a new class has found out, there are some quirks to any boat. We wanted to get them sailing and competing with the rest of the fleet because it’s not as fun when you are way behind.

When planning your Thistle tune-up day, keep these three elements in mind:

The weather is always subject to change; have a backup plan.

The idea was to offer an environment where everyone, both crew and skippers, can practice. The agenda was to work on speed, crew mechanics, starting practice, strategies, answer questions, and have a beer with friends. We ended up having some thunder but made the best out of it by talking about boat settings, pre-race strategies, crew responsibilities, and how they play a crucial part into tactics and sailing the boat efficiently. The weather let up and we were able to do some speed testing with two and three boat groups.

Not only does this spread the knowledge, but it gets everyone together and getting to know each other. It’s hard to ask questions and learn when you don’t know your fleet very well. Just bonding as friends and sailors is really important to build the foundation for learning.

Bring the boats to an equal level.

Spend a morning and tune boats. Bring your tools and spare hardware boxes. The goal is to make sure everyone has an equal playing field. We sail a one-design boat but not all are rigged the same. Take a look at the running rigging and see if everything works. Having a boat that works well can be half the battle.

We sail a team boat; everyone should be encouraged to come.

Make a fleet email list to better communicate with your fleet members and anyone who sails, is potentially interested in sailing or crewing, and regularly crews on a Thistle. Remember they are two thirds of the team.

Takeaways for making your tune-up day successful:

  • Use that email list to communicate.
  • Take a day and make sure everyone has a boat with systems that work and has the right tune for their sails.
  • Set the date early in the season and you will have a better turn out. (I want to shoot for three tune-up days next year.)
  • Get a white-board and use it.
  • Have a plan and try to stick to it.
  • Remember, people need to feel welcomed and part of something before they will get involved.
  • Approach new members/Thistlers and introduce yourself. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you first.