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Vitamin Sea: Getting fit for sailing


It doesn’t matter whether you’re a complete novice or a more seasoned sailor, doing a bit to get yourself into better physical condition will always pay dividends. We’re not training for the America’s Cup here, but these simple exercises in the build up to your time with Rubicon 3 are fun, easy to do and you’ll really notice the difference.

Doing a little bit of exercise and training in the weeks before we go to sea is going to help us improve our balance, agility and core strength. This helps not only with the actual sailing, but with getting on and ogg the boat, lugging your bags around and more. A little bit of extra fitness is going to make a noticeable difference!

Why exercise?
Well we are no physicians, but everyone knows these days that exercising, keeping moving and eating well help reduce stress, ensure you will sleep better, give you more energy, lower blood pressure, and reduce the chance of injury. So whether you’re joining as an experienced watch leader about to complete an ocean passage or you’re a complete novice stepping on to a boat for the first time, your new sailing fitness won’t just help you during your time with Rubicon 3, it’s going to make a big difference to every day life too!

Taking the first steps
Remember: you should speak with your doctor before making any significant changes to your exercise regime.

First up, we’re going to have an honest look at ourselves and assess our current fitness. I used to run marathons around Europe – even mountain marathons – and in my head a 13 mile training run is still just around the corner with a quick tune up. Errrr… no, wishful thinking. These days, 4 miles would leave me washed  out and it’s a sure sign that my fitness could be topped up somewhat! Having too great a gap between your ‘mental’ fitness and your ‘actual’ fitness will only mean that you take on too much, push yourself too hard and cause yourself an injury. What you do not need is a gym membership, a new wardrobe of spandex, a barbell set or actually anything other than some exercise kit and a pair of trainers. What you really should do is get to a running shop and get your feet checked out. There are all sorts of special trainers that will ensure your ankles keep in line when you exercise and this is essential in reducing any chance of injury. Don’t skip this step. Get the right shoes!

You all know the mantra – stretch, stretch, stretch. It can often feel like wasted time, or something that can be skipped but your muscles are like chewing gum. Easy to tear when cold, but really pliable when warm and stretched out. Stretching not only reduces the chance of injury, but it increases your mobility, and this is really noticeable when you’re on a yacht. Start with five minutes of gentle cardio, then stop and work your way from top to bottom. Stretch your back, arms, groin and legs. It only takes another 5 minutes so don’t skip it!

If you’re new to stretching, there’s a nice little all body routine here


There really is nothing like a 15 -20 minute jog to get every part of your body zinging. It raises the heart rate, exercises the lungs, fills your blood with oxygen, uses so many muscles and just gets you outdoors. Yes, when you first start it can be brutal, but go easy on yourself. Mix a bit of jogging with walking, and just find a pace that you can keep up for 15 minutes or so. It’s a lovely way to get out, see some new places or routes where you live and just observe the world as you ‘speed’ by!


If you can, going swimming once a week has enormous health benefits. I find it boring as hell to be honest, but there is no question that a regular swim does wonders for fitness and agility. Your whole body is stretching, exercising and flexing in an almost zero weight environment and there is no surprise it is a favourite of all athletes returning from injury. If you can, do some underwater swimming, holding your breath for as long as you can. This does wonders for your lung capacity and ability to process oxygen. The benefits, mixed with some normal exercise, are huge.


You might immediately think of Jane Fonda in her neon 80’s kit, but that’s only if you want to! Doing some static exercises is a huge benefit to overall strength. You can do these immediately after your running or swimming if you wish, to reduce the number of times you need to change for exercise. Do  some squats, some lunges and some crunches. Lift a weight above your head a few times. If you’re holding a shopping bag, try lifting your arm out to the side. If you’re up for it, do some press ups (you can keep you knees on the floor if you need to). Finally, if you can, do some burpees. yes, they are horrible, awful, exhausting, terrible things but that is for good reason: there is probably no single better exercise to get you fit than burpees. Good luck!


Balance is of course critical to life on a boat, and it is something that is easily improved. You need to do some core exercises to build up all those little muscles inside that will allow you to stay upright. You can do the plank  and the side plank, and we also like standing on one leg and just balancing.

Finally, working on your nutrition is going to have a really big impact. First and foremost, try knocking the alcohol on the head for two weeks. Not a bit. Totally. If you don’t see a BIG increase in your energy and focus, I’d be amazed. Next knock out all the sugary snacks and drinks, and eat a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner. We’re not here to tell you what to eat because we believe you already know. Just do it!