Why All Athletes Should Be More Like the Oracle Team Sailors
Published on April 8th, 2016
By Erin Beresini, Outside
Oracle Team USA is a sailing crew of 14 athletes bankrolled by billionaire software tycoon, Larry Ellison. Every three years, these Olympians and world champions are called upon to compete for the America’s Cup title in a 46 mile-per-hour spectacle that’s been dubbed the world’s most dangerous sailing race.
Nine years ago, America’s Cup boats had a top speed of about 11.5 mph, The Verge reports. That 35 mph leap comes from a combo of intense training and a greater focus on boat design. “Leaning how to sail is maybe 10 to 20 percent of it,” says Team Oracle member Sam Newton. “The other 80 to 90 percent is developing the boat to make it as fast as possible.”
For that, Oracle has an 11-person design team. But they can’t do their jobs without quality feedback from the sailors. And the sailors can’t do their best without understanding how the boat works, right down to every last cable, panel, and button. In other words, the key to the sailors’ success, which includes two consecutive America’s Cup wins, is absolute mastery of their equipment.
In the Oracle Team’s case, that’s a multi million-dollar vessel loaded with high-tech electrical, hydraulic, and mechanical features. For you, maybe it’s a time trial or mountain bike, skimo, or climbing equipment. Whatever your sport, you’ll be a better athlete for knowing your stuff, inside and out. That way, you can tweak it for optimal performance—enhanced aerodynamics or grip, for instance. And when something goes south, you’ll have a better handle on how to deal.