America’s Cup Aftermath: 5 Management Lessons


Americas Cup 01Team USA’s win was very impressive – coming back from an 8-1 deficit, with 2 penalty points, and winning with 8-9 was spectacular, indeed!

Naturally corporate leaders everywhere are asking the questions – How did the team achieve this against an equally versatile and talented opponent? What heroic efforts did the team take ? How did the leads motivate the team to stage such a win ?

Interestingly, simplicity is the key

A thought-provoking article by @juliasulek “America’s Cup: Oracle’s ‘secret weapon’ to pull off historic comeback was largely bluster” has some illuminating answers.

5. Reengineer & Redesign your equipment, processes & services based on real-life learning’s  from the marketplace

During Race 5, Oracle had started strong and was leading but fell apart as it rounded the leeward mark and tanked on the upwind leg

  • They made a few design changes to the 130 foot tall wing sail, adding more curvature down low and more twist on the top.
  • The fine tuning of the win trim control was done over time, incorporating the learnings from the races

4. Reduce to the bare essentials (ie keep your drag minimum)

  • The team realized that they need to reduce the drag. They shorted the central spine of the boat, removing the bowsprit to reduce drag

3. Regroup & Rethink (ie Sail the boat differently)

  • The biggest change, came from the crew

We started sailing the boat differently

Even we were surprised how the subtle changes were so significant in the performance of the boat. But we changed the way the guys actually sailed the boat. It took us three or four days to do that properly

  • Even after making the structural changes after Race 5, the team lost 2 more races. … but they were a little more confident with our speed
  • They achieved a knot more speed after the changes. But the most improvement was the learning by the team that created the winning spirit

2. Relearn

We were able to keep learning. In the end, that was the deciding factor

1. Winning Spirit, Confidence & Pep Talk

  • The Skipper (Jimmy Spithill) maintained confidence that a come back is possible
  • Kinley Fowler, one of their sail trimmers who had injured his back and couldn’t race, entertained the crew each morning with his own Australian brand of pep talk.

Lots of laughs at difficult moments !

And that worked ! Lessons, we all can incorporate into our corporate projects !

[Update 10/6/13] Comments from Justin Tsao : Lesson 0 -To do the Impossible, you must bend the Impossible (rule wise). 

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2 thoughts on “America’s Cup Aftermath: 5 Management Lessons

  1. With all due respects, and Team Oracle are a great team, but you never mentioned Lesson 0. To do the Impossible, you must bend the Impossible (rule wise).

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