Doublehanded Team Dynamics with Steph Roble and Maggie Shea

July 2021 One Design Line Olympic Edition

Steph Roble & Maggie Shea, Tokyo 2020 49erFX

Sail and Rig Set up 

When the velocity and wind direction are constantly changing, set the boat up so that it is easy to sail and transitions well from puffs to lulls and vice-versa. Is there more to gain by going fast in the puffs by putting the bow down or will you gain more by minimizing losses in the lulls? Rig tension is your gross tune and sail controls are your fine-tune. The sails ​should be trimmed for balance and the boat ​be perfectly flat.  If setting up for the lulls, make sure that you can keep the mainsheet somewhat trimmed and use the controls (vang, cunningham, outhaul, backstay, etc.) to flatten and twist your sail enough in the puffs.  

Know Your Role 

On a very dynamic day, remind yourself that because so many variables are changing, you have to accept “sailing the boat well most of the time” instead of “sailing the boat perfectly some of the time.” Someone must focus boat trim and speed, and someone on tactics and strategy. It’s important to identify whose head is IN the boat and whose head is OUT and stick to that. 


Sailing in offshore, shifty, and puffy conditions require​s precise transitions and constant communication. Trimming the main for power and getting ready to ​adjust weight for an approaching lull​s/puffs is critical. Communicating how much power is in the boat and what will need to be required from ​everyone in the team to have a smooth transition into each puff and lull ​is key in these conditions.  ​With our crew focusing on balance and trim, the helm/tactician can focus more outside the boat and forward on big picture pressure and how ​to have the best strategy and tactics up the course. 

Be Ready to MOVE! 

Crews need to be very proactive and dynamic with weight movements to balance the boat properly. Remind yourself to ‘not get comfortable in any position.’ If you are fully extended on the trapeze or hiking out hard, be ready to crouch or move in toward the center of the boat. Keep your eyes focused on the incoming pressure and be ready to move weight out to meet the puffs. On puffy/shifty days, all crew members should be making small adjustments frequently instead of having one or two making big movements all the time. These conditions are high tempo, require sharp boat-handling, quick reactions, smooth transitions and following your gut.