Spending a day out on the water on your laser sailboat is not only mentally challenging but also physically demanding. In fact, if you are not in good physical condition, you can get very tired very quickly. Of course, you want to enjoy your time sailing and don’t want to become exhausted too quickly.
When you tire, your body simply can’t perform at the level you need or want it to. As well as this, you can also put yourself in danger. Your primary concern should be safety, so understanding your body and training it so that it can perform under all sorts of conditions allows you to be confident and get the most out of your time on the water.
It doesn’t matter whether you are just learning or are more experienced and considering joining a competition, you need to be fit. Obviously, there will be more fitness required with the latter, but the bottom line is you should be fit enough so that you get the most out of your sailing experience, and you stay safe.
Unlike other sailing vessels, a laser sailboat requires more muscle power and endurance than many others. Aside from honing your sailing skills, you need to invest time to develop or improve your physical fitness. And if your goal is to see good race results, then be prepared to work out as much as you can.
I am sure many sailors will agree with me that being able to hold the hiking position for as long as possible on a windy day, keeping the boat as flat as possible, can make a big difference. Hiking intensely is demanding on your thighs, neck, shoulders, lower back, knees, ankles, and abs, hence the need for excellent conditioning.
If you head out having to hike hard and your fitness isn’t up to scratch, your body will fail you pretty quickly and you simply will not be able to hold the hiking position any longer.
Laser sailboat fitness
Along with being able to tune the boat and read the wind and competition, laser sailors that focus on their fitness and can push their body to the limits for longer get better results.
To get fit for competitive laser sailboat sailing, you need to work on different areas of fitness; namely, your muscle strength, your aerobic fitness, and endurance.
Muscle strength can be achieved by doing lots of sailing. However, this may not be a good option if you do not have enough time to spend on your laser sailboat in moderate to heavy conditions regularly (eg. several times per week). This type of muscle building strategy is heavily dependent on weather conditions and the time that you have available during these favorable conditions.
A better option may be to engage in resistance and weight training. This is advantageous because it can work around your schedule and you can do it any time, regardless of the weather. There are different options that are available to you; for example, you can join a gym, exercise using free weights / your own body weight at home, or set up a home gym with bench and barbell.
Some exercises include leg press, leg extension, lunges, sit ups, crunches, bicep curls, tricep extension, seated row, lat pull-downs, supported row, bench press, shoulder press, etc.
An advantage of having stronger muscles is that you do not need to grasp as tightly or use as much force as when your muscles are fatigued in order to achieve the same level of power. This means that more oxygen is able to flow to your muscles enabling you to keep working them for longer. The pain that you feel when you use your muscles (eg. move your body weight windward as far as possible when hiking your laser sailboat to lessen the boat heeling) is a result of oxygen deprivation in those muscles.
Aerobic fitness is also important if you want to do well in laser sailboat racing. Being aerobically fit helps you to quickly react to wind shifts and other boats, etc. Not only that, aerobic exercise can help you improve your concentration and decision making, especially in the final stages of the race when fatigue is most likely to set in.
Some of the more popular forms of aerobic exercises that you can use are running, cycling, or swimming.
Similar to aerobic fitness, endurance is the ability to sustain the effort for long periods of time, an absolute necessity when you are racing your laser sailboat.
Building endurance is different from building strength. While strength comes from making your muscles work to exhaustion at their maximum capacity, endurance is achieved through many repetitions of a routine that can be sustained for a lengthy period. To build your cardiovascular endurance, it’s recommended to keep your heart rate up for extended periods while training. Again, training routines that include running and cycling are great, but other exercises like the basic wall-sit, or staying in the full hiking position for 15 minutes, will build endurance.
If you really don’t know where to start, or how to get the results you desire, you can always ask the experts on some tips to get you fit for laser sailboat racing. You may want to consider getting some guidance from a personal trainer to work with you, who can also push you when you need a bit of extra motivation. If you’re a member of a gym, you may be able to get a program made for you, which can focus on the areas of fitness, strength, and stamina you need or want to work on.
Aerobic and endurance exercises can really get your heart rate going. However, before you start an exercise program, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor beforehand to make sure that he or she gives you the go-ahead to start any physical exertion like this.
Getting ready for a competition is hard work, and requires a dedicated training regime. As well as the physical side of things, this also means including rest in your program, so be sure to let your muscles recover well between training sessions.
As well as this, there are also other factors to consider, such as nutrition and hydration. Keeping your body fueled is essential for peak performance. That’s another whole blog post on its own, but suffice to say that without the right fuel, your body won’t perform.
For more information, check out Paul Goodison’s Laser sailing fitness video below…
How much time and effort you want to spend on training is really up to you – it all greatly depends on how badly you want to see better results in your next laser sailboat race. Set realistic goals for yourself, and get the help of experts if needed. No-one said it would be easy, but the results will be worth it.
If you need more information on laser sailing fitness, check out my Top 5 Laser Sailing Fitness Tips post.
Your laser sailing fitness tips…
What do you consider important for you to be able to be at peak fitness to give you the edge when racing your laser? What do you include in your training regime?
Please share your laser sailboat fitness tips below…