Whether we're at the grocery store, the doctor's office, or the airport, we always seem to be playing the weight game. How much per pound for a juicy watermelon? How much weight must we shed to avoid the doctor's lecture? How much clothing can we squeeze into the suitcase before exceeding the baggage weight allowance? It's nearly impossible to shift the focus off of weight in the day to day, and the sport of sailing is no different.As a certified therapist specializing in sailing, helping racers manage their weight has become part of my job. (Packing my suitcase to weigh less than 33 pounds, however, still seems like rocket science.) My latest project involves getting 10 pounds of muscle to stick on a naturally slim solo sailor, Clay Burkhalter, a Connecticut native training for the 2007 Mini Transat 6.5, which starts in La Rochelle, France, on Sept. 16.I've been working with Burkhalter's Team Acadia since early 2006, and I'm currently with the team in France. We've been addressing Burkhalter's physical and nutritional training. Occasionally, we'll swap roles and Burkhalter will put me to work on some of the "little" skills a solo sailor must possess, boatbuilding, rigging, electrical and carbon fiber repair
Burkhalter is one of the hardest working sailors I've come across, always doing his homework. What kind of homework does a sailing fitness guru give a Mini sailor like Burkhalter? With the amount of time he must spend working on the boat, logistics, sponsorship, etc., assigning him a regular gym workout routine would not be realistic. So we've created a "boatyard" routine he can do wherever Acadia happens to be. In addition, Burkhalter loves to row and he would head out on the water up to twice a day while he was home in the States. Getting Burkhalter to work out was easy; getting him to eat was harder, and not because he didn't want to, he just didn't have the time. His family and supporters have done an amazing job of checking in and feeding him during his long days of boat work. Still, Burkhalter is naturally tall and lean, and on his upcoming 4,250-mile endurance test, he will certainly benefit from a few more pounds of muscle to work with. Burkhalter is built like a marathon runner, but I'd prefer buff ocean racer!As Burkhalter continues to work Acadia into a lean, mean racing machine, I'll be molding the skipper into a buff ocean racer. Stay tuned to SailingWorld.com for progress reports.