Staying Healthy During Junior Sailing

Junior sailing signals the start of a fun-filled summer, with lots of activity. Typically it’s dinner then straight to bed after a day on the water and with friends. Sailors going into 420s, Lasers or Pixels start the summer with big plans to run everyday and get into shape…these plans fade within the first week of the program.

Maybe it’s the summer heat, maybe it’s just the excitement of being with friends, but often fitness falls to the wayside. In JSA of LIS, sailors are competing in long regattas, all of which require mental and physical stamina. Sailing everyday of course helps build endurance, however there are aspects of the sport that can be greatly enhanced by off the water training.

In college sailing, the top teams work closely with training staff and nutritionists in order to perform at their best. Of course, it’s a lot to ask of kids to keep up a strict workout routine, but there are definite benefits to a regimen fitness and good nutrition.

A noticeable difference between junior sailing vs. college is the snacks that are eaten at regattas. At a typical college sailing regatta teams will have: Nutri-Grain bars, carrots and hummus, turkey and cheese, lettuce, and peanut butter, jelly sandwiches. Mostly everything is eaten with whole wheat bread and a copious amount of water and Gatorade is consumed throughout the day. Junior sailing regattas around the Northeast look a little bit different. Hot dogs and hamburgers are commonly eaten before going out on the water. Cookies and other sweets are served along with lemonade and occasionally even soda. Now, these kids are young and junior programs are about having fun just as much as they are about sailing. Nutrition is easily controlled by packing lunches for sailors and bringing plenty of water on the coach boat. Having fruit like watermelon instead of Snickers as a snack can go a long way towards a sailor’s performance throughout a regatta.

It might be pointless to argue for more fitness during the summer, but it is important to know what types of fitness can increase performance. While abdominals are important for trimming while hiking, keeping your body upright relies heavily on your legs. Droop hiking gives more downward force rather than balancing the boat. It’s desirable for a skipper and crew to be able to straight leg hike, with toes in the straps and body completely extended out of the boat. Keeping your legs straight while hiking in any boat relies on quadriceps, some exercises that are effective for this are wall sits, squats and lunges. Of course, the example I gave along with aspects of fitness improve boat handling, but to touch on all of them would make for a very long article plus, I’m no expert. So what I would stress is to work on fitness when possible, but definitely try to focus on diet and eating foods that will help rather than hinder your sailing.

Check out an article by Sail1Design on summer fitness here