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What to Read: Into the Storm: Lessons in Teamwork from the Treacherous Sydney-to-Hobart Ocean Race

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July 01, 2016
What to Read
Peter Engel

What's On the Bookshelf
Over the years, we’ve had numerous conversations with industry leaders and often one of the topics that we discuss is the latest book read. We thought it would be fun to share some of these booklover conversations with our readers. Here are what our industry leaders are reading.

Into the Storm: Lessons in Teamwork from the Treacherous Sydney-to-Hobart Ocean Race
by Dennis N.T. Perkins
[Review by Peter Engel, Marcus Hotels & Resorts]

Over the years I have read numerous books on leadership, teamwork and management that have the same basic format; make a premise, say why the premise is different or a result of new research, add eight to 10 chapters of concepts or methods, then sprinkle liberally with the author’s experiences or observations. This book does not follow this format; it starts with a great story that could be a book by itself and uses it as the basis for the lessons that follow. The story follows an annual sailboat race that starts in Sydney, Australia, and ends 723 miles south in Hobart, Tasmania. This race is considered one of the most challenging in the world. In 1998, the weather conditions significantly exceeded those from the previous 43 years the race had been held. The race began with 115 boats ranging from multimillion dollar maxi yachts with professional crews to many smaller boats crewed by amateurs.

After a fair weather start, the boats were assailed by a massive storm with winds over 90 mph and waves more than 80 feet. Three days later only 44 boats finished the race, five sank and seven were abandoned after the crews were rescued in the largest search and rescue operation in Australia’s history.

The story is largely told through the experiences of the crews of Sayonara, one of the largest boats and owned by Oracle’s Larry Ellison, and AFR Midnight Rambler, a small 35-foot boat crewed by amateurs. The crew experiences of the winning boat provide valuable lessons on how to create, manage and be part of a high-performing, extremely focused team. The second half of the book explores the critical strategies of building a winning team, sharing leadership, dealing with conflict, communication, taking risks, innovation, resilience and creativity. The background of not only meeting team objectives but to survive while doing it gives new meaning to the value of teamwork.
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