British Olympic team outline light airs strategy

The challenge of sailing at top level in light winds and high humidity is set to take its toll on competitors at the Olympic Games in Qingdao, China this summer.

British sailors are aiming to shed a tenth of their body weight to meet the light winds expected in Qingdao. They hope to achieve this through a combination of a low-fat, high-protein diet and a strict exercise regime that includes two hours of cycling before breakfast.

The RYA plans to equip the sailors with lighter clothing and sail cloth to help tackle the light winds, strong currents and lingering fog that Qingdao experiences. “The average wind speed at that time of year is six knots and at last year’s test event it was less than four knots,” Stephen Park, the Olympic team manager, toldThe Times. “The tide can run at up to two knots. So you can’t be lardy or you won’t go anywhere.”

The team’s nutritionist says they were warned not to eat local meat – “They whack the the chickens full of steroids.” Instead an in-house chef will prepare tailored meals consisting of fruit, oats, soya, pasta, meat and vegetables. “There are three aims: to reduce body mass while preserving lean tissue, maintain health and maintain energy levels,” the team’s physiologist said.

Dehydration will also be a problem – each sailor will drink 5 to 6 litres of a specially formulated sports drink per day to cope with humidity of up to 100%.

Last year, Chinese customs officials confiscated 8,000 GBP of meteorological equipment after accusing the team of conducting “illegal” weather tests.