Good article from the May 2010 issue of Sailing World by Dan Rabin on the best crew practices. It’s a team sport…
One evening a few years ago I had the opportunity to drive a J/24. I had logged countless hours as a tactician and bowman on the boat, but I’d never helmed it. I finally appreciated why J/24 skippers are so batty: they can’t see anything. We did well in that race, though it wasn’t because of my driving skills. I had confidence in each person doing their job, and focused on trying to keep my act together. I was the new guy, while the rest of the crew had a lot of time together, so their communication and trust level were high.
I’ve been fortunate enough to race in a lot of different classes in varying roles. While I’ve been able to develop relatively deep expertise in some positions on certain boats, I think some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned have come through switching roles. There are high-level requirements to be consistently successful as a crew, no matter what position. In addition, we tend to execute our deep expertise skills unconsciously, while letting some of the more general best practices slip.
Full article can be read on their site here.