Last year, ESPN rated what it felt were the 60 most demanding sports, based on 10 skill categories that go into athleticism: endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, nerve, durability, hand-eye coordination, and analytic aptitude.

Golf was ranked #51. Curling -- chucking that big ol' rock down an icy court while teammates whisk-broom the area -- was ranked 56th. Even billiards made the list, at #59.

And where did sailing rank? Nowhere to be found! Not on the list at all!

As a sailor who's also a fitness aficionado, I think a recount is in order. Here's how Sail magazine sized up the demanding job of an America's Cup grinder, those beefy guys spinning double-handled winches to raise and trim sails.

Workouts (4-5 days per week, up to as many as 9 workouts weekly): Workouts include weightlifting, running, cycling, and kayaking. Many boats also require crew members to compete in local fitness events and races, including triathlons. During a typical gym session, a grinder may lift a total of more than 220,000 pounds. (That’s over 110 tons, boys and girls!)

Calories in: Grinders, who typically weigh around the same as a decent-sized middle linebacker (220-250 pounds), usually eat 6 meals a day along with 3-4 protein drinks. Dietary breakdown is usually around 30 percent protein, 40 percent carbohydrates, and 30 percent vegetables.

Calories out: During an average 7-hour day on the boat (racing or training), grinders will burn about 4,000 calories.

Workload: The heaviest headsail load that a grinder is required to handle is more than 8,800 pounds. The highest handle speed required while grinding is roughly 200 rpm’s. (Just try that next time you take a spinning class!)

And yet somehow, this doesn’t measure up to the fitness of golfers, curlers and pool players.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go lift a few 12-ounce weights.

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I am new to sailing, but have seen others, and they are very fit, by and large. No doubt you have see the enclosed video...I think the music is great and makes it even more exciting...Lola and paste it in if it doesn't come up..enjoy
hey lola, the other side of fit and trim is broken nails, bruises, cuts, and arms that are stronger than most men you date. haha i'm usually the one who opens the jars or pulls the cork out. i love that video i put on my space and watch it all the time--have to admit i never even came close to sailing like that, not really sure i want too, how would i drink a glass of wine and look for dolphins?
Go to U Tube and type in .. This is Yacht racing...I can't seem to paste it here....Lola
*LOL* I rather enjoy the sport of 12 ounce weights myself .....hell..I got tired just reading all that "grinding" info up there ! Interesting stuff indeed ....
Of course to some sailing is not a sport but a life style, and cruising is a lot different to racing. If you manage to escape the marina/club bar and actually go sailing you will end up being fit and flexible. At the end of last summer I was having a beer with a gentleman and he was telling me that he was a spitfire pilot and trainer during WWII and was part of the airbridge to Berlin. I asked him how old he was, 90 was his reply. He and his lovely wife intend to give up sailing at the end of this year due to his failing sight. I know many sailors in their 70's who are fitter than some land based people who are in their 50's. Don't know if it is the sailing or the attitude to life, maybe both. Anyway only wimps lift 12ounces, sailors lift 1kg!!! :) Bottoms up guys.
1 kg, eh? I figure that's about a 40-oz. bottle. I could lift it, I might even be able to chug it, but they stay a lot colder in the handy, palm-size 12-oz. bottle. Besides, the secret is in keeping the cooler far enough away so you have to get up and walk to it (modified cardio exercise).
Hi Pete, yes the 1 liters are really only an option in the snow country. The photo of me with the 1 liter was taken in Istanbul in February. Here in a Turkish summer half liters are my choice, as long as they are in a stubby cooler to keep them cold. Drinking half liters the exercise you get is going to the head. :)
Hello Stephen,
Sorry to hi-jack your disscussion but it's been my observation that alot of aging sailors move over from sailboats to trawlers,less demanding work,any body else notice that happening?
...just my two cents worth! :)
Hoist a mug of Grog!
You're probably right on that, Mike, but I think it's also true to some extent that aging sailors are behind the growth in the market for anchor windlasses, electric-powered winches and other sailboat enhancements. In all seriousness, while it's tough to hold back the ravages of time on the body, getting fit -- and staying fit as one ages -- is something well worth aspiring to. I'm not saying we should all try to be like those America's Cup grinders, but remaining active and fit in one form or another is a noble goal, even for cruising sailors. Besides, knowing you've done a little bit extra to treat your body well can make those 12-ouncers (or 40s, I suppose) taste even better.
Hi Mike, Yep I know some friends that have gone that way, and I reckon they made the right choice for themselves. May go that way myself in the future, depends on health and cruising area. I enjoy sailing but I love the life afloat more if you get my drift. No need to be sorry it is your discussion as much as it is mine. Regards, Stephen
I just saw Dave Beckham on Ellen, without a shirt, and I gotta tell ya Soccer ...may be a winner..Wow...sorry guys...


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