As with most sports, there are several ways you can physically prepare for taking competitive laser sailing to another level. Here are a few tips to help you stay sailing and give you a fighting chance of a podium finish.
Nothing gets your heart pumping like a cardio class – and considering dinghy races can last 90 minutes and burn off about 400 calories per hour, you need all the help your heart can give you.
However, if gyms aren’t your scene, then according to Tim Jones, the British Sailing Team’s Pathway Sports Scientist, cycling plays a major part in a sailors’ fitness programme.
He says: ‘Sailing and cycling use similar muscle groups, and as it’s a low impact activity it’s suitable for sustained exercise and therefore ideal for improving cardiovascular fitness.’
Given the demands that laser sailing puts on your dinghy, it’s vital your body can resist the vessel’s urge to tip over. Strength and resistance exercises will help you gain the power in your legs, arms, abdominal and back muscles to give you the edge on the water.
These exercises can be performed using free weights, dumbbells, and barbells among others.
As well as increasing your dinghy performance in challenging weather, you will also be reducing the chance of injury.
Remember, the most common sailing injuries are to the lumbar spine, your knees and shoulders, so ensure you strengthen these areas and hone your dinghy racing technique to avoid strains, sprains and contusions.
Food and drink
When you are burning through the calories (up to 400 calories an hour!), you need to have stores of energy ready to kick into action when your body needs it.
Carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits and vegetables will help your body store glycogen, ready to fuel a couple of hours of intensive physical activity.
Make sure you’re also consuming proteins and staying hydrated. Fluid balance testing with Olympic Sailors has shown sweat rates can average between 500-1500ml/hour – so pack that water bottle!
Because laser dinghy racing demands high levels of physical strength, agility and mental preparation, cross training is the perfect preparation. Whether it be jogging, swimming, tennis or a long country walk, exercises that train different muscle groups at the same time will help you prepare for a dinghy race.
Whether it’s after training or after the race itself, make sure you build an effective recovery programme.
Without periods of rest, your body will seize up, and your mind will not have time to digest, learn and apply new techniques.
Laser sailing is demanding, and after every trip on the water, your body will demand rest.
Whether it’s through stretches, light exercise such as a jog or yoga, this is a critical part of any training programme and will ensure you’re fit and ready for the next dinghy race.
These might be rough guidelines to perfecting you laser dinghy training, but they will form part of your racing success. If you are going on the water, take out our dinghy insurance to keep you that bit safer.