Team SpirIT trouble

BT Global Challenge skipper resigns

Wednesday October 11th 2000, Author: Mark Chisnell, Location: United Kingdom
It had to happen with a name like that - Team SpirIT is the first BT Global Challenge boat to hit teamwork trouble with the resignation of skipper Andy Dare. There were stirrings of a problem when the boat hit the dock in tenth place at the end of the first leg. Crew member Tina Williamson seemed particularly at odds with the skipper, accusing him of making decisions on the hoof and lacking, 'an ultimate strategy'.
Mark Bailey is one of a handful still on the boat, while the others are away on holiday prior to the restart on October 15th. "We were unhappy with our position," Bailey said. "It was especially hard leaving home, and then being in the back of the fleet. We had a tactical team who made the decisions, and they didn't always pay off. But there's been no real finger-pointing as such."

The problems that did exist appeared to have been resolved during a debrief period shortly after the first leg, as specific issues were addressed. But more fundamental was Andy Dare's attitude to the Challenge - that was still bugging him and it wasn't going away. "Basically I haven't enjoyed it, it's not what I thought it would be. I wasn't happy on the leg and I haven't been myself," he commented. "There's the Race, and there's the adventure of it all. And I figure I'm more of an adventurer than a racer."

Those within the Challenge see two ways of dividing the roles on board the boat. One way is the Mike Golding way; give everyone the job to which they are most closely suited within the team structure, and keep them in it. It's the way you'd organise a normal racing boat. The problem is that someone can end up paying £24,000 - and spend ten months cooking.

The other way is to move people around in a less defined crew structure - so that everyone has a go at everything. It's much more likely to keep the whole crew interested and involved, but much harder to maintain an efficient decision making process, as people move from job to job. No surprise that Dare chose the latter in order to give everyone the best possible experience of the adventure of the Global Challenge - but the race decision making must have suffered and hence Williamson's criticism.

But Team SpirIT have remained leaderless for less time than the England football team - the reserve skipper, John Reid (a good friend of Dare's), will take over. Dare will stick around until the restart for the Boston-to-Buenos Aires leg, to ensure that the hand-over is as smooth as possible. Then he'll take a holiday and consider his options. The Challenge Business have offered him a slot as a training skipper.

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