I was reminded of this most excellent Norwegian word when catching up on one of the threads on maritime leadership styles. Loosely translated, it means “Captain’s effort”, and refers to a concentrated exertion of such intensity as to be unsustainable. It is mostly used in reference to leaving everything to the last minute, but can also be used in other settings, as in “Come on boys, we need to make a skippertak to clean up this mess.”
The etymological roots lie in the idea of a captain who has spent his day reading at his desk, and comes fully rested on deck while the crew is struggling with some arduous task. Brushing people aside, he heaves on that halyard like a man possessed, setting the topsail in no time flat with little assistance. He then grumbles something about how the days are gone when men were made from steel, and goes back down below to write poetry. Thoroughly humbled by his immense energy, the men redouble their efforts, or at least so he hopes.
This is one of those words that doesn’t have an English equivalent that I’m aware of, which is a shame, because it’s quite useful.