Messing about with fitness

Published on July 12th, 2020

When it comes to big four professional sports in the USA, the COVID-19 disease has been kinder to some than others. Both hockey and basketball got in most of their schedule, it’s been offseason for football while baseball got shut down just prior to its 2020 Opening Day.

While these leagues all look to re-start, the sailing seasons in North America has the iceboaters in a favorable position. The ice got soft when the pandemic hit, and with some luck, the ice will harden when health guidelines get relaxed.

This time of year is when workshops buzz with activity, for if there is one thing iceboaters can do, it’s “messing about in boats.” But as masts get made and runners get tuned, Karen Binder, the New England Ice Yacht Association (NEIYA) Secretary, is also messing about with fitness. Here’s her update:


It’s been a few weeks since I committed to get to the track a few times a week for some preseason fitness training. My first session was trying to stay ahead of a guy that sailed around the world twenty years ago and won his class in what is now called the Vendee Globe Race. It was shameless of me to try and beat a guy that didn’t even know I was racing him.

Call it Crazy Covid Times…I don’t know.

Since that first night, I have changed my focus to sprinting instead of distance running for two reasons. One, I truly hate running long distances. Two, I am convinced ice boating success relies on a good start.

Last year, I focused on the initial push off the line, making sure my equipment was tuned to me, and the transition into the boat. After my 100 practice starts over four weekends, my race results improved dramatically.

But, there are always ways to get better at stuff. Since I started ice boating, I have heard about Matt Struble’s amazing starts. Based on a YouTube video of his start at the 2016 DN North Americans, I get it. The man CRUSHES the start. I was told he was a pole vault jumper back in his early days. Clearly, part of his success is linked to explosive running speed off the line.

I have since learned sprinting has its own unique components and the 40 yard dash is a good length to practice. I am sure many of you know it’s the distance scouts use to evaluate speed and acceleration for the NFL draft. The average football player can do a 40 yard dash in 4.48 seconds. The record is 4.22 seconds.

For the average human, breaking under 5 seconds is practically impossible. COVID curiosity struck…thinking about football I remembered Tom Brady being pretty slow out of the pocket and his running game left something to be desired…Yes, I know TB 12 is G.O.A.T, but how many of you knew his 40 yard dash time is 5.28 seconds?

So, now I am really curious about Matt Struble’s 40 yard dash time. Maybe he reads NEIYA updates…maybe someone reading knows him and can ask him for me. I want some kind of a benchmark to shoot for…maybe others will join me in this COVID craziness preseason training, get to the track, and we can all get better at our speed off the line.

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