Heiner Diet: 20-kn. winds. 1 tsp of nerve. Stir!
LELYSTAD – When your boss sentences you to an eye-glazing, corporate team building event at a posh hotel, your scariest dress choice is: ‘Polo or shirt?’ Roy Heiner’s motivational events are about boots, oil skins, sun tan lotion, some nerve and thermal undies. The ex-Dutch Olympian grooms young racers but also uses sailing as a lab for corporate team building. Not the puttering-on-a-slow-Saturday kind. But the rough-and-tumble racing kind. In a fresh wind. Or rain. Or storm. How does that Hilton weekend sound now?
Says Heiner (below): “What happens on a sail boat is often an excellent example of what happens in a company. To sail well and fast, everybody and everything must be as fine-tuned as a well-oiled machine. We develop teams in the best available learning environment. An hour on a boat in a storm will prepare your team far better for difficult times than a week in a meeting room.”
Annually, 30 or so companies send employees to Team Heiner courses to hone their management skills and motivation. “They experience the adrenaline, the rush, the tears, the happiness of team work on a boat,” says Heiner. His company is the only one in the Netherlands using sailing as a motivation builder for managers. Additionally, it welcomes 4,000 or so people a year in more relaxed “corporate sailing events” that bring colleagues together with clients, partners or superiors in a fun-and-games setting on the water. “We extend boundaries,” says Heiner.
An experienced sailor, he participated in 4 Olympics (winning bronze in Atlanta/1996 in the Finn Class), worked with Oracle BMW Racing in the America’s Cup and took part in the Volvo Ocean Race. He launched his company, Team Heiner, in 1996 as a ‘’sailing academy” to train racers. He has since added corporate marketing and spirit-building programs to hone management leadership skills.
Team Heiner is a key part in Dutch efforts to shape professional racers. Every winter, it stages match racing weekends of identical J/109s on the IJsselmeer off Lelystad. An official Open Dutch Championship by now, it attracted Finnish and German teams in 2011-12. For the 2012-13 edition, Heiner got 2 B/One open racers (below) from the Bavaria stable. The 7-m, Farr Yacht Design B/One comes with a gennaker and planes easily making it an attractive, thrilling craft for youngsters. “This is a dream come true: investing in a young generation to boost the number of Dutch match racers of tomorrow,” says Heiner. Adds Peter Meyer of B/one: “It fits hand-in-glove with B/one’s plan to keep young dinghy sailors in keelboat sailing.”
Team Heiner’s fleet comprises 12 very fast boats. Apart from 8 J/109’s there is a Team Heiner 38 (a ‘little sister’ of a Volvo Ocean Race 70), 2 Max Fun 35’s (Boat of the year 2003 HISWA Boat Show) and a Volvo-60 in Portimão, Portugal, (a VOR2001/2 participant) that is used also for both company events, management training sessions as well as the Antwerp Race and the Round Ireland Race.