The physical demands of Olympic yacht racing

J Sci Med Sport. 1999 Dec;2(4):375-88. doi: 10.1016/s1440-2440(99)80010-3.


The primary purpose of this study was to quantify the up wards forces of the feet on the hiking strap and the forces in the mainsheet of four Olympic classes of racing dinghies (Europe, Laser. Finn and 470) during realistic on-water sailing in varying wind conditions. The secondary aim of the study was to measure the joint angles adopted by the sailors and boat heel angles. The tertiary aim was to identify events and sailing conditions associated with large or patterned force production. Forces in the hiking strap and mainsheet of four classes of Olympic sailing dinghies were measured on eleven New Zealand sailors during simulated on-water racing in a range of wind conditions. Up-wind hiking strap forces reached an average of 73-87% of predicted maximal voluntary contraction (pred MVC), with peak forces exceeding 100% pred MVC. Mainsheet forces reached 25-35% pred MVC, with peak forces reaching 40-50% pred MVC. Off-wind hiking strap and mainsheet forces were considerably lower than up-wind forces. Ankle and hip joint angles increased and knee joint angles decreased with increasing wind speed during up-wind sailing. Large forces occurred in the hiking strap and mainsheet when boats reached the tops of wave during up-wind sailing in high wind speeds and when a gust of wind hit the boat. During off-wind sailing large forces were observed in the mainsheet when surfing down waves. It is recommended that the intensities and joint angles found in this study be used as a basis for the development of class specific off-water physical conditioning programmes.

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Ships
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical