DIET: Living with a Metabolic Furnace

Published on March 28th, 2013

By Sydney Ferguson
A lot of people don’t realize what is takes to be a professional sailor. Living with one myself, I can attest to the everyday commitment and the toll it takes on the body. As a professional athlete, health and fitness are the core components of the job and they are constantly putting those to the test- you can imagine the wear and tear.

I first started dating my boyfriend, Rome Kirby, when he was on the cusp of embarking on the premier around the world sailing race, the 2011/2012 Volvo Ocean Race – impeccable timing on my part right?

Growing up in the sailing world, with a father who works on the engineering side of these professional sailing teams, I already had experienced a taste of the lifestyle but never knew it from the perspective of the athletes themselves, until I began this global adventure with Rome.

The Volvo Ocean Race is a grueling eight-month offshore race that takes place every three years and tests the world’s best sailors physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is considered a major feat when one completes the entire thing and returns home in one piece and, at the age of 22, Rome was youngest sailor out of all six teams competing. With restrictions to boat weight, their diets consist mainly of freeze-dried food and daily protein bars. Each leg is about three weeks long and with little nutrients and little access to quality protein, along with lack of sleep and over-exertion of the body, the sailors are practically malnourished and starving for real food each time they step off the boat in assigned ports.

Rome started the race healthy and energized at 208 pounds, but ten countries and 40,000 miles later, he was 182 pounds with low iron and a Vitamin-B deficiency.

The race ended in early July 2012 in Galway, Ireland. For many it was the start of a well-deserved period of rest and recovery. For Rome, it was the beginning of yet another journey that would take him (and me) to San Francisco, California for the 34th America’s Cup where again he would be the youngest sailor on the Oracle Racing Team USA. After relocating, it was full on training for Rome, and though his eating habits and sleeping patterns have become a bit more balanced his physical efforts remain high. – Coastal Kitchen, read on

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