Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Are My Bathroom Scales Broken?

How important is to be the right weight to do well at racing Lasers?

Or do Laser sailors - and dinghy sailors in general - obsess too much about the impact of their body weight on their racing performance?

There is a great series of articles about fitness and nutrition for sailing written by Meka Taulbee on the SailFit website.

One year she measured the heights and weights of sailors at the Laser Midwinters East, and compared the results to how the sailors performed in the regatta. This is how she summarized her conclusions in Wit vs Weight

The figures I used are based on ten sailors finishing in the top 25% of each fleet. 
Let’s start with the full rigs.  
The average height was 6’1/2” and the average weight was 180.4 pounds.  
One thing that I noticed was that the sailors who weren’t 6 foot or taller were generally the ones who weighed more, while the ones who were 6 foot and over generally weighed less.  
Most of the heights were pretty close, but the range in weight was actually 35 lbs.
Interestingly both the lightest and the heaviest sailor in this group finished near the bottom of the top 25% and the closer you got to the top of the group the closer the sailors came to the average.

Hmmm. The top sailors were all close to the average of 180.4 pounds.

Confession: I am currently around 200 lbs. Apparently that's about 20 lbs overweight for optimum performance as a Laser sailor.

Some years recently I have weighed a bit less in the summer when I am running and sailing and gardening a lot more than I am in the winter. Some years I get down to 190-195  lbs but it's been a long time since I've been 180 lbs.

Back in 2004-2006 when I was training to run marathons I was around 180-185 lbs.

Should I be aiming to get back to that range again?

Let's look at some more evidence.

Pam and Doug over at Improper Course have been discussing recently the question as to whether Doug should be sailing a Radial or a Standard Rig Laser at Masters Worlds. In one of their two posts on this topic they presented this chart.

Doug is clearly in a different league to myself, but let's look at how much he weighed in his worst and  best performances sailing a Standard Rig Laser at the Masters Worlds in recent years.

1997 - 185 lbs - 1st
2006 - 180 lbs - 1st
1999 - 182 lbs - 3rd
2000 - 183 lbs  - 3rd

2008 - 190 lbs - 12th
2007 - 186 lbs - 9th

OK. Not a perfect correlation. But when he was his heaviest (190lbs) he had his worst result.

And he won two world championships weighing 180 and 185 lbs.

Hmmm. I think the evidence is clear. I need to lose some weight.

This year I will race at a competitive weight of 180-185 lbs.

This year will be different.


PS. Right now I have no plan as to how I am going to lose 15-20 lbs in the next few months.

Any suggestions?

Or do Laser sailors obsess too much about the impact of our body weight on our racing performance?


my2fish said...

You could chop off a foot or something.

Or try a juicing diet.. Aren't they all the rage these days?

Tillerman said...

I'm a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I don't think you can get that in a juice.

Baydog said...

Give me a couple days

JP said...

I lost 5 pounds when I got bronchitis - but not sure I'd recommend this method to anyone

Chris Partridge said...

That's your problem right there. Cut the potatoes. And reduce the other carbs. No more Hobnobs,cake, pizza or fries. Substitute brown rice for white, whole meal for white bread.

Unknown said...

What no Hobnobs - do you really want to win the Masters THAT badly?

Tillerman said...

I have no idea what a Hobnob is. And I very rarely have cake or pizza or fries or white bread.

Jack Sprat said...

If you're looking to win the worlds this year, drop the 20 lbs. Otherwise, I'd recommend continuing with the current meal (and drinking) plan.

Tillerman said...

Ahah. Jack has put his finger on it. The drinking plan may be the problem.

Keep Reaching said...

Problem?? Why do you see it as a problem? Sounds like a good plan to me - continue the current regime and don't get too upset if you don't win the Worlds.

Doug / Pam said...

A suggestion (which meat and potato guys will not like): try food combining by not eating protein and starch at the same time. I went from 193 pounds down to 163 pounds in 2 months, was never hungry, and felt great. Not for everyone but for me, it worked a little too well as I had to go back to occasional 'regular' meals to stay above 160.

The best book on this I've read is Food Combining: A Step-By-Step Guide (In a Nutshell, Nutrition Series).

Tillerman said...

My comment about being a "meat and potatoes kind of guy" was (like a lot of stuff I write here) said with tongue very much in cheek. Indeed we were having short ribs and garlic mashed potatoes for dinner on the day I wrote that. But really we have a much more varied diet than that. Tillerwoman is very good at preparing healthy meals for us, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean protein, grains, not much fat or sugar, hardly any processed foods, very rarely have a dessert. One of my problems is that she is such a good cook that I am almost always tempted to eat too much of the delicious dinners she prepares for us.

I am also amused (but not surprised) that I can write posts about the minutiae of how to sail a Laser and hardly get any comments. But when I write about food or diet, so many of my readers have a point of view. Keep those comments coming people.

meech said...

Beer is liquid bread - I think of it as an all-grain juice

Tillerman said...

Oh, so that's what "juicing" is all about?

Anonymous said...

Less input... more output ! There's no secret ... and take care about what you "input"...

Tillerman said...

Or as Michael Pollan advised, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Post a Comment