Sibling Rivalry Overridden in 49er/FX Racing

The thought of sailing with a sibling can be less than appealing for some, but it is a frequent source of pairing in 49er sailing. From the Argentinian Lange brothers to the Norwegian Agerup sisters, there are multiple teams at the highest level of 49er/FX sailing composed of siblings. Competing in the same sport (or in the same boat) as a brother or sister can create rivalry that is often amplified if they are of the same gender. But in 49er/FX sailing, it seems to be the opposite.

Will and Sam Phillips, Australian 49er team of brothers, prefer sailing with each other as they have had the best results together and find it “really the same as sailing with anyone else.” They spent four years sailing together from 2008-2011, took a hiatus to sail with others and focus on work and school, but found their way back to their sibling pairing in 2015. When asked how they deal with a disagreement on the boat, they claim their mistakes are usually obvious and they are both aware of the problem, so blame is skirted. “We try and focus on what’s ahead in the race, the tempo is high so there’s not much time to disagree. But I am older so maybe I’ve got the final say,” admits Will.

Turning to the female FX teams, Carla and Marta Munté Carrasco, a young Spanish team of sisters who began sailing together in 29ers five years ago, certainly prefer FX sibling sailing. “The level of confidence that you reach with your sister is very high, and we are very comfortable together.”  When asked what they do when they have a disagreement during races, they explain, “there is always one of us who is the responsible one making the final decisions, so there is no confusion about this. And an advantage of being sisters is that we solve our problems very fast.” The level of confidence in the boat seems to be the focus for this team pairing. The girls are comfortable saying what they’re thinking because they are communicating with not just a partner, but a sister.

It can be fragile territory sailing with a sibling, but if you are comfortable and close enough with a brother or sister, it seems to be a practical solution when forming a skiff team that will ultimately tighten your bond and positively affect performance. “We get along well, we’re the right size, it’s convenient, and it fits well with the larger 49er challenge. It’s enjoyable solving problems and looking for improvement together as a team,” Will explains. As for disadvantages, he affirms “I’m not sure that there are any.”