Friday, 14 August 2009

BASES Conference

The 2009 BASES Annual Conference will be at Leeds Metropolitan University from 1-3 September.
Look out for a presentation titled: "Optimising Arm-crank Configurations: testing the most powerful upper-body athletes in sport" at 12h15 on Tuesday 1 September (Lecture C). There will also be a sailing symposium at 13h00 on the Thursday, specifically detailing Dee Caffaris preparations for the 2008 Vendée Globe yacht race.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Training 'Circus'

I thought that I had just about seen it all when it came to 'gym creativity' until today. I had just finished a 15 minute warmup on the grinder at LA Fitness and was about to start dynamic stretching when I noticed these two guys... yes, both were guys... engaged in some rather 'intimate' spotting... One of the guys asked me why I had taken a picture with my mobile, to which I politely replied "because it was a unique exercise that I had never seen before", he then asked if I could post the image on Youtube so that "others could see how its done correctly..." Amazing!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Injury Update

It is now 12 weeks post surgery and training is coming good. The chest and shoulder are getting stronger every day. I am up to 60 minutes on the grinder – pain free! and I can just about do 5 push-ups now. I am more confident that ever that I will be ready to ‘rock-and-roll’ come the end of year Louis Vuitton Series... (thanks everyone for all the support, emails, etc.)

When I’m not at physio or in the gym, I am consulting for the Sports Technology Institute (STI) at Loughborough University ( The STI is the World leading Sports Technology research centre where much of the R & D for major sports brands such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, New Balance, Callaway golf, etc is performed. In fact we also performed some exciting research on grinding at the STI last year (the novel research is currently in press) and we hope will influence the design of future big-boat grinding pedestals and winch systems. The World Cup soccer ball was also designed at the STI, as well as the new synthetic NBA basketball, not to mention the most successful golf club of all time, the Calloway big-Berther.
I attended an interesting presentation recently by Dr Richard Liang from the High Performance Materials Institute in the USA ( on the use of Carbon Nanotube Buckypaper composite, which is taking the place of carbon fibre and is one tenth the weight yet 500 times stronger than steel. It is being used in the aerospace and military industries, and is sure to find its way into the likes of the America’s Cup and Formula 1 very soon.

Monday, 3 August 2009

33rd America’s Cup - 100% technology

As for the Deed of Gift match, what an awesome display of yachting technology! Both the BMW Oracle Racing and Alinghi multi-hulls are amazing. Legal issues aside, the 33rd America’s Cup is destined to be a truly historical event. As for using engines to drive the winch and hydraulic systems, one can understand this from a technology aspect (with the ‘open’ Deed of Gift rule), but as an athlete one can only hope that this does not become the future of pro-sailing.
Only recently have the physical demands of elite/pro sailing become acknowledged as an important component of sailing success, particularly in big-boat sailing. For example, efficient grinding has been shown to affect the speed of manoeuvres. Hence, the high physical demands of ‘grinding’ has led to innovative research of the sports science of grinding, including optimum grinding pedestal configurations, grinding technique, etc. It’s not commonly realised, but big-boat sailing is the only able-bodied sport where arm-cranking (grinding) is the primary physical activity. It is not surprising that grinders are among the most powerful upper-body athletes. Therefore, in my opinion from a physiological aspect the uniqueness of grinding as a sporting activity is extremely interesting and should be encouraged as a fundamental activity in pro-sailing.