Are you a sailor or a high functioning sailing athlete?
A few years ago I asked myself this same question and as a result I embarked on a life-long journey to reach my full potential as a competitive sailing athlete.
Growing up sailing I was generally fit, largely through just living a very active lifestyle. As a kid I sailed every day during the summer months and then played hockey on the ice during the winter (I’m originally from Minnesota). During my High School years to get from place to place I would commute by bike on the hills of San Francisco. I competed in soccer, basketball, cross-country and sailing for my High School team. In College we sailed everyday, with practice during the week and racing every weekend.
Most sailors likely have a similar story and as a result were usually pretty “fit” growing up. This perception of fitness then continues into many sailors’ professional lives.
It wasn’t until I started to sail the 49er in 2011 with aspirations to go to the Olympic Games that I began to understand what it took to be a sailing athlete. My past routine of purely living an active lifestyle wasn’t cutting it.
I consistently had nagging injuries that limited my training time and performance, especially when it mattered. I consistently felt that I was behind the ball while racing, struggling to perform the physical and mental demands the racing required to be successful. Not only that, I struggled to get to the optimal weight for my specific sailing class. It was always hard for me to keep weight on and I would eat as much as possible all the time, not even realizing that my body was struggling to perform internally as well.
After the 2012 Olympic Trials I was humbled and inspired to figure out what it took to be a high functioning athlete.
Reaching my genetic potential as an athlete
I didn’t know it at the time but I was on the beginning of a life-long journey to not only achieve my own athletic potential but to ultimately serve our community by inspiring other sailors to reach their goals through fitness.
Through meticulous improvement in four distinct areas of my life (lifestyle, nutrition, physical and mental training) I was able to uncover the holes in my training that were limiting me from becoming the athlete I was meant to be.
By learning to master these areas of my life, I now can perform consistently as a high functioning athlete in any endeavor that I choose to tackle.
I encourage you to ask the very same question I asked myself. Am I performing at my full potential? If not, make a change – learn to become a sailing athlete!
The Next Generation of Sailing
It has become very apparent that in the last decade the sport of sailing is changing at the top levels of competition. Boats are becoming more complex, speeds are faster, courses are shorter, loads are higher, and the need to perform as an athlete is critical.
These new racing classes are quickly weeding out the generally fit sailors and requiring a new breed of sailing athletes to take their place.
The question then becomes, how fit do you need to be in order to be competitive in sailing? Soon I will have some insights to this question as I continue to compile performance standards and norms based on athletes in the sailing community. However, it is not a straight forward answer as there are many variables that go into being a competitive sailor. Each athletes level of optimal fitness largely depends on their function (type of sailing class, position on the boat, etc.). Thus, it takes an individualized approach to performance training to acquire the optimal fitness needed for each sailing athlete.
My mission with Sailing Performance Training and the SPT-Blog is to inspire, empower, and enable sailing athletes to reach their full potential.
Check in frequently as I will be posting content to help you on your own journey.
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