By Marc Jacobi
It’s easy, when one lives in an area that experiences cold/snowy winters, to forget sailing season is only a few months away. Popping out onto the Aero may not be a possibility on a frozen sailing area, but there are a few key things one can do to prepare the body and mind for the great sailing that is soon to come!
How many triathletes prepare for events by being lazy, getting drunk and eating crap? Why do so many sailors of demanding boats think such an off- (and, in many cases, on-) season “regime” will enable them to perform well?
Off-season fitness needn’t be difficult or expensive. I bought a used, high-quality stationary bicycle (Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are excellent sources) and put it in my basement. 30 minutes in the morning gets the blood pumping while checking emails and social media, or reading some pages from a current book. A small selection of free weights augments the aerobic workout on the bike, and I get to the gym for more comprehensive workouts when I can. I’ll do some push ups against the bathroom vanity before hopping into the shower if a “real” workout can’t be squeezed in.
Watch what goes into you. My personal morning routine is known by many: a green smoothie (kale/greens, banana, carrot and some walnuts—you might add some berries to make it more palatable—grin) and a hard-boiled egg. Front-loads my day with good stuff, keeps me full and hydrated until lunchtime. That might sound disgusting to you, so just remember the basics: Minimize refined sugars, salt and bad fats; maximize tasty, nutrient-dense, non-processed food. And indulge yourself every once in awhile with a favorite treat/meal!
Use the off-season to devise goals for the upcoming season and a path to reaching them. This down-time, without fellow sailors around so much to influence, allows you to focus on YOU. There’s nothing selfish about saying “I want to accomplish X,” and anyone who teases you for setting goals and going for them either doesn’t support or want you to get better.
Watch videos of excellent people sailing boats similar to yours. Read/re-read articles about sail trim, racing rules and technique. Ask yourself if/then questions about various scenarios around the boat and racecourse. Call/text/email a friend and quiz each other on something. The more your mind has soaked-in this good stuff off-season, the better you’ll be on the water.
Finally: if an opportunity arises to sail, do it! Maybe a different class, or a trip to a different part of the country or continent, it’ll help break-up the seemingly endless winter, and give you a jump on others who don’t have the courage to go for it.
One doesn’t have to be thinking/breathing sailing 24/7. In fact, I’m a firm proponent of taking breaks to absorb the many complex aspects of our sport. But taking basic care of the body and mind during the off-season will result in your being in better mental and physical shape for this year’s sailing adventures!