In order to evaluate the physiological profile of elite competitive sailors, and to determine if sailors revealed any seasonal variation in their exercise capacity over a 9 month period, results from female sailors (n = 6), and male sailors ("hikers" n = 8 and "non-hikers" n = 7) were compared with male physical education students (n = 8). Maximal oxygen uptake rate (VO2max) determined on treadmill did not differ between male sailors and control subjects (61.4 +/- 2.0 vs 64.9 +/- 1.4 ml O2/min.kg, mean +/- SE) and did not change with time in elite sailors (p > 0.05). Isometric endurance for abdominal and back muscles was similar for all groups. The isometric muscle endurance in a hiking bench was markedly greater in "hikers" [time: 218 sec (91-426) mean, range] compared to control subjects [time: 98 sec (48-188)], male "non-hikers", and female sailors (p < 0.05). Hiking endurance in "hikers" did not change over the 9 month observation period. Furthermore, dynamic arm performance ("all-out" in 60 sec) was higher in "hikers" compared to all other groups.
In conclusion: Elite sailors who perform hiking activity ("hikers") show an enhanced performance in a functional arm test and higher endurance in a hiking-bench compared to "non-hiking" elite sailors and a control group matched for age, weight and fitness. Furthermore sailors did not show any seasonal variation in their VO2max or isometric endurance over a 9 month period.