Pre-Race Nutrition for Young Sailors
and the Young at Heart


What we eat and drink on race day will impact our performance! Sailing is a strenuous physical activity. Though this pre-race nutrition video is aimed at youth sailors on race day, it’s for every sailor, everyday; high school and collegiate sailing teams; weekend regatta sailors; beer can racers; kids in sailing lessons; and those day sailing with the family.

Good pre-race nutrition is critical to optimal performance and the key is to plan ahead. We don’t want to wait until we get to the regatta only to realize the food being served doesn’t meet our needs. If possible, find out ahead of time what will be available. The goal is slow release, long acting, nutrient dense foods. We want sufficient complex carbs for daily fuel such as the whole grains found in high fiber cereals, whole grain pastas and cereal bars. Steer clear of high sugar foods like candy bars and soda, that give a burst of energy, followed by a crash and brain fog. In addition to complex carbohydrates, make sure to have some quality proteins, such as lean meats, beans, chicken, seafood or yogurt for muscle strength and repair. Finish out the line up with fruits and veggies for phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins.

It’s All In the Timing

When we eat is as important as what we eat. Have larger meals early so they have time to digest and for the nutrients to enter the bloodstream. Two to four hours before dock time have carbs, protein and water. This could be a sandwich with protein and a piece of fruit; pasta with veggies and meat sauce or chicken; eggs with a piece of whole grain toast and some fruit. Not hungry and maybe have a few pre-race butterflies? Try a smoothie made with greens, fruit, and Greek yogurt. One to two hours pre-race go to smaller snacks. Snacks are important between races and immediately after racing as well. Under one hour switch to liquids, which are easily digested and absorbed. We’ll cover hydration in another video.

Snack Before, Between and Right After the Race

Snacks should be portable like a granola or cereal bar; fresh or dried fruit; cheese sticks or foil tuna packets. Make sure to pack snacks so they stay dry and secure if your boat capsizes or for rougher weather. It would be a total bummer if your snack sinks or gets soggy. Put them in a zippered freezer bag, a dry bag or send snacks along on the coach boat. It’s important to start the muscle recovery process with a snack on the way in or while derigging and cleaning up the boat.

Pre-race nutrition is a key factor in how well we do on race day. What we eat and drink impacts our performance: sail faster and smarter by drinking water and eating for speed.

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