Fitness for Puma Ocean Racing Team PDF Print E-mail
Written by Zuzana Prochazka   

Ocean racing takes a toll on more than just the boats.  As the 2011 Volvo Ocean Race finds itself off Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, the fleet prepares for rough conditions in giant waves.  Each of the three boats has already seen major damage along the course, including a couple of dismastings and a holed hull.  But these races are dangerous for the crews as well which is why Rhode Island’s Puma Ocean racing team put extra emphasis on fitness as they prepared for the grueling conditions of this year’s 39,000 nautical mile race.

After finishing second in 2008-2009, Puma’s team took on a personal trainer and dedicated their winter to matching their physical conditioning to the kind of movements they’d be doing on a boat.  Skipper Ken Read noted that he suffered a hernia and another crew member blew out his knee on the last race, so this year it was all about being prepared.  Mike Cecchi, who owns Bridge to Fitness near Newport, joined the crew on the boat so he could learn what kind of movements it takes to manage these big boats.  Then he tailored workouts specific to the team’s needs.

Key to any routine is core strength and balance so there were lots of pushing and pulling exercises while balancing on a 15 degree ramp to simulate the boat’s heel.  Developing grip strength using lengths of rope s was practical as was interval training with maximum effort for a short period followed by rests.  Matching the exercises to the types of movements used while racing has made the crew stronger and more flexible so they can perform at their best no matter what the sea throws at them.   Now let’s see what that will be.