Following on from some very boisterous exits from the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay, those competing in the Transat Jacques Vabre have rediscovered some milder latitudes this morning.
Wet, bracing, sporty… just some of the rather modest descriptions used during the radio sessions with the skippers from the IMOCA class, given the harshness of the weather conditions encountered. Added to the dampness and the cold was the stress of the start, the constant surveillance of the very dense shipping synonymous with these maritime zones, the incessant noise topping 100 decibels at times as the hull slams into the waves, the odd bout of seasickness even for the most experienced sailors… In short, in an environment such as this, the competitors, obsessed by the idea of getting their boats making good headway, have been struggling to eat and sleep (due to impossibility, oversight…), further emphasizing the effect of physical fatigue on a body constantly having to compensate for the boat’s violent jerking motion.
“A normal working day requires a human being to consume 2,000 calories a day. For a sportsman though, it’s easily double that”, explains Jean-Yves Chauve, a legendary doctor in the domain of offshore racing.
Following on from rough weather, the ensuing calm spells are opportune for the competing sailors. They’re a chance to get some effective sleep for a sufficiently long period (at least an hour and a half) to reach the “non-REM” and “REM” (that of dreams) sleep phases, which enable a person to get rid of built-up stress and really recuperate. “The benefit of sailing double-handed is the ability to better regulate each person’s state of fatigue and allow more rest to the person who most needs it to ensure the optimum balance between the sailors and hence the most effective performance by the duo,” concludes Doctor Chauve.