YERT Member, Ben Brewer, shares what he has gathered from racing at navigator and captain, and the difference with separating the two roles.
This same race I miscommunicated with my team that I was navigator and Steph was captain, opposed to our earlier discussions where I wanted to be captain too. We were wrapped up in this circle of decision making in the middle of the night with me looking at Steph to decide what we do, and everyone else waiting for me to decide. Luckily we only wasted a few minutes, and precious brain power, until we decided to skip the pro-course. I definitely learned the importance of communication and allocation of tasks.
Kadee over and out.
Here is Ben’s story:
Adventure racing is constantly full of learning. I’m in my third year of racing and every time I out on course I learn, discover or try something new. It’s a big part of the process for an amateur in this sport and I imagine an important piece for all high level competitors as well. Back in June, my team and I tested a new strategy during the Bend Racing’s Summer Solstice 12 Hour adventure race, where we used a dedicated captain and a separate navigator throughout the race. The Summer Solstice turned out to be a great testing ground because the challenging course was to be run at night! Starting at 7 pm and continue to, if not before, 7 am.
For the past couple years of racing, I’ve been learning to race while both navigating and captaining. As time has gone on and racing has become more complex I’ve started thinking that having a single person as both captain and navigator is not the best strategy. Those tasks are difficult on their own, even before you throw a team, harsh environments, nerves and fatigue into the mix. So, the thought was that the two tasks need to be done separately in order to reduce the risk of costly mistakes, confusion and occasional frustration. After some discussion with the team, we all agreed to give it a shot! I was to navigate and a fellow teammate would captain.
“Captain! You tell me when to eat and I’ll tell you where to go!” was one of my few requests of the captain before the race, as I took on the responsibility of navigator. It’s simple but important. I was planning on becoming a part of that course map for the next 12 hours and I’d need help keeping track of caloric intake, staying hydrated and knowing how to best keep pace. As the race started, continued and a long while later concluded, the captain held up his end of the bargain and more!
From my past position of doing both roles, it took some time for me to let go of some of the captain’s duties I was used to and completely focus on navigation. I would have to remind myself to turn off the captain part of my brain that wanted to question, ignore or change what the actual captain was telling me. The more I trusted the captain, the more I solely focused on getting the team to the next checkpoint as fast and efficiently as possible. My mistakes or delays navigating went down with this trust, too.
Although I’ve only been able to test separate navigation and captain duties during one shorter race, I’m inclined to keep up with the technique and see how it can grow and become more efficient. Adventuring racing is a growing process and I can’t wait to see what we can come up with and work through next!
Ben, YERT – Sufferfest NW