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.