Sailing as Team Building

Corporate sailing could quite possibly be the very best team building activity on earth.

Sailing simulates our environment at work – constant changes and ‘unknowns’ are thrown at the group who must adapt to deal and deal with the situation.

A large of our Corporate Sailing Adventure involves executive ‘team building’, but also creates the opportunity for self and group discovery.

Learning to sail a boat well, around a course or in a fun competition puts the crew on board in a unique situation. They must learn new skills together as a group – solving problems and working together in a fun and challenging environment. Together on a boat – co-workers must abandon pre-existing relationships and solve problems together – as a team.

Frequent topics of discussion both during and after the event are:

  • What hidden barriers do we all acknowledge that inhibit us working together better?
  • How do we maintain this level of cooperation back in the office?
  • Once we clearly understood our roles, and each other’s roles, everything was much smoother. Could this be why we are having trouble with ‘XYZ problem’ at the office?

Sailing Formats:

There are several ways to structure your corporate sailing event, depending upon your desired outcomes:

Large Yacht Sailing

Boats from 32 to 125 feet long and support from 4 to 80 participants. Large yachts have 3 crew members and at least two facilitators on board at all times to supervise and help with the individual self-discovery.

This helps participants experience the need to be, and value of being, an effective ‘cog’ in a wheel. This expression has a negative connotation. But in truth, no one wants to do everything!

In addition, the metaphor for sailing a large ship is extremely useful when discussing an organization. Most of the principles are the same and can help stimulate discussion in small breakout groups during the adventure.

Lastly, this is an extremely fun event that combines a learning opportunity with a unique setting to create a memorable and lasting impression.

Executive Mental Crunches

A mental workout to truly let a small group of executives experience and witness behavior under stress in a safe environment.

We collect everyone’s cell phones, PDA’s and watches and put them into a dry bag. Participants are taught basic sailing skills and conduct man overboard drills. after everyone is starting to feel comfortable we hold up the dry bag and toss it overboard. A REAL man overboard drill. Have you ever seen how people react when they lose their cell phone, Blackberry, Treo, etc? Now we have the chance to see how people really react under pressure and whether they were paying attention — because the instructor steps aside and will only help them in dire need.

Of course, when they get the ‘Man Overboard’ or dry bag back in the boat, the discover the bag is simply a duplicate and their belongings were safe and sound the entire time down below.

This provides the basis for discussion of behavior under stress and how it relates back to be helpful or hurtful as an executive, boss

As we sail back to the harbor, we pull the dry bag back out, show them a zip lock bag with all their stuff and throw it over board again. This time, they KNOW it is real and we get to see if there is any change in behavior from the first time. What do you think they do?

When they get the dry bag back in the boat, they discover the bag is filled with old cell phones, watches, etc. Their stuff was safe and sound below. This gives us the opportunity to set expectations for change. How much change is possible and how much change do we REALLY want?

Lastly, the group walks away understanding each other better and feeling more closely connected.

Team Sailing Challenge

A day-long event, we begin by teaching basic sailing skills and drills, mixed with impromptu discussions about how the boat relates to how the group works together ‘on-the-job’.

Mixed with some on-shore activities that help the group communicate better, experience the need for leadership, followership and the value of both.

At the end of the ‘day’ the participants discover that the day was not simply about improving communication and ‘team building’. They will be participating in an ACTUAL local race.

The facilitator/instructor steps aside and is only an observer during the race.

This creates a true mix of theoretical, practical and actual team building within the group and leaves a great sense of accomplishment that is missing from so many team building events.

Fun Day at The Races

Merely taking your team away from the office for an exciting day on the water conveys value and appreciation. Putting them in a sailboat racing event bonds and develops communication skills.

Team up on different yachts for your own corporate regatta – race the home team against the visitors or one department versus another. This is an amazingly good time and will make an indelible memory of cooperation and competition between friends.

While some of the participants are out racing, the groups onshore are involved in debriefing, short activities to reinforce and practice what they learned while sailing and finally, simply relaxing and enjoying the day.

This can be either a 4-hour or 8-hour event.

Small Boat Regatta

Your group begins the day without any idea how to sail a boat together, and certainly not to race it. And yet, by the end of the day, each team of 4 to 6 will race their own boat against others who, if possible, race every week.

Sailing small vessels creates an exciting atmosphere that sharpens each participant’s attention and compels each self-managed team to fully integrate individual efforts. Through this exhilarating experience, participants develop leadership and communication skills, strengthen relationships, share risk-taking, and improve trust. The debriefing session back on shore examines communication patterns, leadership styles, decision-making processes, and team effectiveness.

Our professional facilitators work with or are certified sailing instructors to introduce your group to the sailboats and teach the fundamental sailing skills. Amid the spray of sea water, team members rotate through the different roles of the sailing crew, which allows each person to take the helm and handle the lines and sails. The team must work in unison throughout the adventure, tacking and jibing, sail-handling and steering, while our staff members continuously monitor safety and focus the group’s attention on team discoveries.

After a team has learned and practiced the necessary sailing and teamwork skills, it is ready for the regatta. Each boat’s crew uses its new skills to try to outmaneuver the other boats to the finish line.

Offshore Adventure

There are very few experiences like watching the sun rise out to sea. This experience is completely unique and makes the group adapt, learn and overcome obstacles.

This is the ultimate ‘team building’. challenge, designed to bring all participants out of their comfort zone and into an exciting adventure.

While the experience is actually extremely safe, with Yacht master Instructors aboard and a fully capable deep ocean yacht, the sheer power and expanse of the open sea is supreme in enhancing interdependency and teamwork.

Your team(s) will sail from the port of your choice and make offshore passages to demonstrate the bond, communication and critical team dynamics essential to attaining the individual and corporate goals.

Participants will experience different styles of leadership that they can use, the impact of those styles and the demands that a changing and challenging environment can place on them as leaders. Our experienced instructors will facilitate the experience by coaching the participants in sailing the yacht, safety equipment, nautical instruments, and navigation. If your corporate team needs bonding, this is the most efficient way to find it, learn it well, and bring it back to work.


By working through a discovery process with you, we tailor the event using our wide array of land based and water based modules to create an experience that will initiate a change in behaviors that affect team performance and your company’s bottom line.

However, we guarantee the participants will come away with a better understanding not only how to interact better as a cohesive group, but also how to translate that knowledge back to work.

Each participant completes an action plan related to specific goals they set for themselves. Based upon this, a daily action plan is created with specific tasks that will create certain benefits to the person and organization.

An enjoyable, leisurely sail or an activity based team sailing adventure awaits you.


This HIGHLY dependent upon your:

  • Desired outcomes,
  • Desired format,
  • Desired location – San Francisco or BVI, San Juan’s or Chesapeake?
  • Number of participants and
  • Date of the event.

There are simply too many variables to provide a cost sheet. Please contact us, give us the details and we can give you an idea of costs based upon your needs.

FAQ about Corporate Sailing

Activity FAQ’s

1. What if it rains?

Much like the business environment, unexpected adversity can be thrown our way. We will have a contingency plan in place should the weather not cooperate. However, we have found this to rarely happen

2. Where can we do this?

We can arrange our Corporate Sailing at almost any port in the world.

3. Do you need to know how to sail before you go?

Absolutely not. In fact, our biggest breakthroughs occur with those who are new to sailing.

4. Some of our group may not know how to swim

No problem, we all wear personal flotation devices.

5. I am not sure which exercise is right for my particular situation. Is there someone I can speak with?

Absolutely. Call and speak with any one of our facilitators at 800-513-8759 .

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