How Breathing Can Deeply Affect Your Sailing

by Youssef Akrout via Dream Big Sailing 

Why do dinghy sailors often capsize at the upwind mark rounding even at a high level? Why do they unwillingly breach rules, miss the hiking strap after the tack, and make mistakes they wouldn’t normally?
The answer is simple: Lack of oxygen in the brain!

Scientific explanation:
In order to have an effective hiking position, you need to throw your shoulders back and consequently tighten your abs. The static movement of the abs makes breathing hard, since the abs will not allow the muscles responsible for breathing to work properly (transversus abdominis muscle etc.), which results in the decrease in volume of air coming in and out of the lungs. 10-15 min upwind, with an average heart rate of 140 bpm is similar to a 10-15 min run. While you run, you breathe with a higher rhythm because the body requires a higher volume of O2 and also needs to take out the CO2. The same thing is applicable in Laser sailing. While racing in 12+ knots you need to breathe in the same rhythm as a run to provide the body enough O2 to function, otherwise you will feel short of breath.

-Make calculations while you’re doing an intense activity (on the bike, at the gym, or while running).
-Train to not hold your breath while sailing (do 5 minute sets upwind focusing only on breathing).
-Try to focus on the steps of mark rounding while doing an intense activity in the gym (visualization).

Youssef Akrout is a two-time Olympian, a physiotherapist, an athletic trainer, a sailing coach, and a founder of Dream Big Sailing, which provides multiple services for dinghy sailors as a sailing academy. 

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