British Sailing Team use Garmin GPS for World Class training 

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Garmin products used to maximise performance on and off the water
 

The controversial quote that sailing is a ‘sitting down sport’ is being blown out of the water by British Sailing Team athletes as they train with the aim of continuing their medal success at the Olympics in Rio in 2016.

The Royal Yachting Association’s squad of sailors, at various stages of their podium-topping  potential in both Olympic and Paralympic classes, are far from simply sitting down as they train intensively for up to seven hours a day both on and off the water from their Performance Unit base at Portland, Dorset.

Leader in GPS technology, Garmin is helping the members of the British Sailing Team improve their physical fitness levels and on the water performance with a range of its high technology products.  As Official Supplier to the RYA’s British Sailing Team, Garmin’s comprehensive choice of GPS, sports, fitness and action cameras are available to the squad members and coaches, and are being used as a essential part of the on and off the water training and performance programmes. 

Garmin’s new VIRB GPS-enabled action cameras are being used by the coaches to film the sailor’s training activities on the water.  RYA Performance Analyst Emilie Sauven says the GPS time stamped images available from the Garmin VIRB camera, combined with data from the athlete’s Garmin Heart Rate Monitor, are used to review and analyse performance back on shore overlaying this data against specialist software.  “The ability to overlay GPS tracking with the camera images, combined with physical data from the sailor enables us to take a complex set of measurables and use this to analyse performance and look at areas for improvement,” she says.

The launch of Garmin’s GPS enabled, high definition VIRB action camera was welcomed by the coaches, who are aware that while action is happening on the water there is only one chance to capture this vital data for review back on shore.  “We are really excited about the potential of the Garmin VIRB to help enhance feedback to our athletes.  By synchronising GPS and heart rate data you provide a much richer account of what actually happened, which in turn helps us to objectively measure performance.” confirms Harvey Hillary, the British Sailing Team’s Head of High Performance and Innovation. 

Back on shore, the British Sailing Team athletes are also using Garmin’s products to measure and analyse their performance when doing their fitness training in the newly-equipped high tech gym.  Dave Macutkiewicz, the RYA Physiologist in charge of the squad training, says data from the Garmin Heart Rate Monitors are combined with other physical markers, such as blood tests to measure lactate levels, to determine the exercise intensities required for each athlete to get them performing at the optimum level.

“We can combine data from Garmin’s Heart Rate Monitors with measures of power, speed and cadence from the gym’s Wattbikes and Concept 2 rowing machines.  This is then measured against blood markers to ensure we are training them effectively,” says Macutkiewicz. 

Many of the athletes also choose their own Garmin wearable products to use out of the gym.  Macutkiewicz  explains: “A lot of the squad cycle to maintain their fitness levels off the water, so the Garmin Edge computers and Garmin Connect software enables them to look at maps to set their own courses, set up training plans and record their activities.  With Garmin Connect, they can monitor their progress and even compare their activities against others in the squad.  He smiles, “Of course, it’s always competitive against each other.”

With the British Sailing Team spending much of their time at regattas abroad, the Garmin mapping software and GPS wearable technology also enable the athletes to find training routes wherever they go.  The team builds up banks of known training rides based around the sailing training camp locations, using Garmin’s detailed cartography, downloading and storing the data for future comparison.  “There’s not a sailing venue which doesn’t have pre-mapped rides prepared by the squad,” says Macutkiewicz. 

For those who think sailing is a sitting down sport, they only need to look at the intensity, technology and training being put into international and Olympic sailing success to think again.

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