The America’s Cup and Teamwork

The America’s cup this year was a fantastic triumph for Oracle and Team USA. It was an incredible match of power and skill. In the UK (and particularly here in Lymington!), we are proud to say our Olympic gold medallist, Sir Ben Ainslie, was part of such an incredible team.

A bit about the America’s Cup:

The America’s Cup was originally named 100 Guinea Cup. In 1851 in front of Queen Victoria, who was watching the race that was taking place around the Isle of Wight, the schooner America swiftly sailed past the Royal Yacht Station and claimed the Cup. Her Majesty asked one of her attendants to tell her who was in second place and they replied “Your Majesty, there is no second”. The phrase is still the best description of The America’s Cup, and how it represents the singular pursuit of excellence.

The cup was donated to the New York Yacht Club under a Deed of Gift, which stated that the trophy was to be “a perpetual challenge cup for friendly competition between nations”. Thus was born The America’s Cup, named after the winning schooner America, as opposed to the country.

Any yacht club that meets the requirements specified in the Deed of Gift has the right to challenge the yacht club that holds the cup. If the challenging club wins the match, it gains stewardship of the cup.

The history and prestige associated with The America’s Cup attracts not only the world’s top sailors and yacht designers but also the involvement of wealthy entrepreneurs and sponsors. It’s a test not only of sailing skill, boat and sail design, but also of fund raising, management skills and team work.

For Oracle to have done so well in The America’s Cup, they had to make sure that they had a solid team. Oracle is made up of many different teams all striving for the same goal. There is the Sailing Team, Management Team, Design & Performance Team, Shore & Build Team and Support Team. As we have seen in F1, the back room support is critical to the teams success. To get an idea of how critical, the aerodynamics experts are such prized assists that their salaries are now astronomical with teams fighting over the top guys.

All of these are a great example of good working teams and how they come together to reach the same outcome. Each part of the Oracle team has to put their efforts in otherwise nothing would happen. Then it’s down to the sailing team to put all the hard work into action.

The Great thing about Oracle is when they were struggling and they didn’t think they were going to win, they didn’t just give up. They thought about how they could reach their goal and brought in Ben Ainslie and also made some tweaks to the boat design. These turned out to be the missing pieces in the puzzle. He gave the sailing team the boost and change of dynamics that they needed to succeed and the tweaks gave them a speed advantage.

It shows that we should never give up on our team – we should just think ‘outside the box’ and a solution will present itself.

“To reach a port, we must sail – sail, not tie at anchor – sail, not drift.” Franklin Roosevelt.

What makes your team successful? Have you had to bring in a new idea or member to your team to turn things around?

Teambuilding activities that could help you: Belbin Workshops, Change or Leadership Workshops, Ice Breakers, Krypton Maze and many others.


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