Into the Storm

Lessons in Teamwork from the Treacherous Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race

 Into the Storm

Author: Dennis N.T. Perkins
Pub Date: November 2012
Print Edition: $24.95
Print ISBN: 9780814431986
Page Count: 288
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814431603

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A Gripping Adventure Story Packed with Insights for Teams Striving to Succeed in the Rough Waters of Today’s Business World

Known as the “Everest of ocean racing,” the Sydney to Hobart Race is a test of skill and endurance under the best of conditions. An annual event in Australia since 1945, this offshore ocean race—628 nautical miles, from the start in Sydney Harbour to the finish line in Hobart, Tasmania—attracts professional athletes, intrepid amateurs, and wealthy yachtsmen from all over the globe. Among its challenges, the race course demands crossing the Bass Strait, a 130-mile stretch of treacherous shallow water. In 1998, “the Hobart” turned from daunting to deadly. Early in the race, boats got blasted by a weather bomb—a storm with hurricane-force winds, torrential rain, and monstrous 80-foot waves. Five yachts sank, and six men perished. That year, coverage of the Hobart was dominated by tragedy, analysis, and Australia’s largest ever search-and-rescue mission, which ultimately saved the lives of 55 sailors. Few celebrated that year’s Overall Race Winner—the tenacious crew of tiny 35-foot AFR Midnight Rambler.

An expert on leaders and team facing challenging conditions and author of the bestselling Leading at The Edge, Dennis Perkins celebrates the success of the Midnight Rambler—and not only for winning the Hobart. In INTO THE STORM: Lessons in Teamwork from the Treacherous Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race (AMACOM 2012) written with Jillian B. Murphy, Perkins recounts the story of the Ramblers—skipper Ed Psaltis and his crew of six amateur sailors—and the power of teamwork to prevail over uncertainty, adversity, and formidable competition. As Perkins shows, the Ramblers beat professionals on much larger and better financed boats because of their exceptional teamwork—including the ability to stay connected in hurricane-like conditions, and having the courage to take calculated risks.Unlike most crews, which tried to maneuver around the threat, the Ramblers chose to head directly into the eye of the storm. Three days and sixteen hours after sailing off from the starting line and straight into a storm of epic proportions, the Midnight Rambler arrived safely in Hobart, fulfilling its team’s dream of winning the coveted Tattersall’s Cup—awarded to the Overall Race Winner.

In vivid detail, INTO THE STORM chronicles the Ramblers’ ordeal through harrowing weather and crushing setbacks, from navigation equipment being wiped out by waves, to debilitating seasickness and injury. It recounts the Midnight Rambler’s race against its competitor, dubbed the “Big Yank Tank,” Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison’s world-class maxi yacht, Sayonara. Throughout the riveting narrative, Perkins calls attention to the hallmarks of extraordinary teamwork that gave the Ramblers their edge on succeeding at The Edge of human endurance.

Based on his rigorous research into the critical role of teamwork in ocean racing—extensive interviews with the crew of the Midnight Rambler and other competitive sailors, reinforced by his personal experience of completing the Hobart—Perkins provides a firm foundation for the success of any team. After sharing the Ramblers’ inspiring story, INTO THE STORM explores ten strategies at the core of effective teamwork and offers tactical advice to help readers apply them to their own challenges. In the process, teams will come to value:

• Team unity, strengthened by a bond different from casual friendship: “mateship.”

• Meticulous preparation, with the help of a team checklist and attention to the small stuff.

• Balanced optimism and healthy tunnel vision.

• Calculated risk, with a realistic sense of the stakes and the team’s capabilities.

• A commitment to sharing the helm.

• The payoff of stepping up to conflict and confronting differences in ability.

• Practiced resilience—mastering the art of rapid recovery...and much more.

“Having a superb team doesn’t guarantee success, and every challenging adventure involves an element of chance,” Perkins acknowledges. “But I believe that the kind of teamwork exhibited by the best ocean racing teams changes the odds.”

Gripping and inspiring, INTO THE STORM is a welcome guide for all team leaders and collaborators struggling to navigate turbulence—whether due to forces of nature or business.


DENNIS N.T. PERKINS is the author of Leading at The Edge: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition (AMACOM; March 2012, 2nd edition) and CEO of The Syncretics Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping leaders and teams thrive under conditions of adversity, uncertainty, and change. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, he successfully completed the Sydney Hobart Race in 2006. You can read his blog for Sailing World, and view videos and photos of the race on his company’s website: The author lives in Madison, Connecticut. JILLIAN B. MURPHY is co-author of Leading at The Edge, and Director of Client Services at The Syncretics Group. She works in the areas of leadership, executive coaching, and team effectiveness.

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