Staying hydrated is as important in sailing as in other sports, but it’s not talked about as much. You can improve your sailing performance by paying attention to some basic things.
We all know that water is fundamental to life, and how important it is to drink enough water. Even so, when we think about performance in the sport of saliing, we usually think about training systems, exercises, even protein balance or supplements. We don’t always consider the water balance of our body.
This is weird, especially knowing that about 60% of our body is water – 75% for babies. An adult who weighs 80kg has 48 kg of water inside.
The marine environment puts a lot of pressure on the materials of our boats. It’s also hard on the tissues of our bodies. The sun and salt can damage your skin, eyes, and lips. High temperatures and strong winds make it difficult to control sweating, especially if you are doing hard tasks above or belowdeck.
Looking at how sailing is different from most other sports activities, here are two specific things to think about.
1. The setup belowdeck
Working belowdeck without good air circulation can increase sweat production and worsen your thermoregulation ability. You get hot, and even though you may be sweating a lot, you can’t cool down properly. The weather, air temperature, and humidity can make stuffy conditions even worse. So, what can you do?
First of all, if the day is hot and sunny be sure to maximize the air flow belowdeck. Pay attention to your clothing when you need to work down there. Organize your work with sails to keep the time spent belowdeck as short as possible. Last but definitely not least, drink some water before and after your work there.
Video two things: belowdeck
2. The sailing direction
Imagine sailing upwind with fresh air hitting your face on the deck. The wind keeps you cool, easing the thermal balance of the body, especially on a hot and sunny day. A downwind leg, conversely, means more work for the sailors and less apparent wind hitting them. Depending on your clothing choices and the physical demands of the work on this leg, hydration can become a problem.
How can you avoid thermal imbalance in this case? Well, the first factor is clothing selection. You should dress in layers, choose the right materials (breathable and light) and remember to add some air flow to your body by opening the zip of your jacket. Once again, keeping up your hydration by drinking some more water now and then will make the difference.
Video sailing direction
The belowdeck air circulation and the sailing direction are just two aspects to consider when talking about hydration on board. Why are they so important? Because these two things alone can lead to dehydration and from there to a number of serious problems, such as poor judgment, less stress tolerance, and lower muscle resistance.
To learn more and find out what other factors can make the difference in the management of your body when sailing, download our free boating hydration guide. You will also learn how to recognize dehydration, little tips to avoid it, and how to disentangle some of the most common urban legends about water, food and drink.