Physical fitness covers a wide territory. If you want to improve your sailing through better fitness, spend your time on the aspects of fitness that count most.
Three Fitness Measures of Winning Sailors
A study of sailing fitness measured competitive dinghy sailor fitness levels and correlated them to the sailors’ regatta performance. Here are the top three fitness measures that correlated with success on the race course.
- Hiking endurance – correlated 82% with regatta performance. In most small boats, you need to hike hard for a long period of time to keep the boat on its lines for maximum speed. A related measure (knee extension strength) also correlated highly (60%).
- Sheeting power – correlated 77% with regatta performance. Your main sheet is your accelerator and it needs to be adjusted frequently and sheeted hard in breeze. A related measure (grip strength) also correlated high (77%).
- Aerobic fitness – correlated 46% with regatta performance. The lower correlation may be related to the static nature of muscle use during sailing (e.g., holding main sheet, holding hiking position).
Check Your Sailing Fitness
Here are some quick measures to see if you are a Level I (lowest level assigned), a Level V, or somewhere in between. These are based on a Texas A&M sailing team conditioning test, which is an update of an older US. Sailing test. Check with your doctor before beginning any fitness testing or workout program. Older sailors may not be able to achieve these measures.
Sit with your back flat against a wall with your thighs 90 degrees to your back and your calf 90 degrees to your thighs. Hold for as long as possible. If you can do 2 minutes, you’re a Level I; 10 minutes makes you a Level V.
Men: If you can do 5-10 pull ups, congratulations – you are a Level I! 30 makes you a Level V.
Women: If you can do 10 inverted rows (lie in the floor on your back and pull yourself up to a bar or table top), you are Level I. 30 makes you a Level V.
Do a 1.5 mile run, a 3.75 mile bike ride, or a 600 meter swim. For men, Level I time for any of these is 13 minutes or less; Level V is 9 minutes or less. For women, Level I is 14 minutes or less and Level V is 10 minutes or less.