Next July, Bermuda’s Great Sound will host the 35th America’s Cup, one of the oldest and most-watched sailing races in the world. Six teams will compete for the 165-year-old trophy: USA, New Zealand, Sweden, Japan, France and Britain. Under the command of skipper James Spithill and funded by Larry Ellison, the billionaire Oracle co-founder, Team USA has held the cup for six years — and they plan on keeping it.
Team USA’s desire to win can be seen most clearly in their training regimen. It is relentless. Since they last won the cup in 2013, the sailors have been lifting, running and dieting almost non-stop, and it shows in their rugby-player physiques. Yacht racing demands gargantuan levels of core, arm and lower-back strength, along with incredible stamina and sharp focus; indeed, the fastest sailing crews are among the world’s most gifted athletes.
Craig MacFarlane and Scott Tindal are the two men responsible for keeping Team USA in cup-winning shape. As physical performance manager, MacFarlane oversees the team’s workout routine. Tindal, the head physiotherapist and team nutritionist, mostly handles recovery and diet. Together, MacFarlane and Tindal build a holistic training regimen for each sailor. Some sailors need more strength training; others need more cardio. But every sailor has one workout in common, built around one core-shredding exercise called “grinding.” And it just might be one of the best workouts you’ve never tried.
“Grinding is a whole body exercise, not just upper body,” MacFarlane said. “You generate power from the floor through your hips and upper body. It’s a cyclic movement where you synchronize a pushing and pulling movement with opposing arms.” On racing cats like the USA-17, grinding is how the sailors control the boat’s gears. The grinding pedestal looks and functions much like a bike pedal, with two opposing cranks on each side, only it’s propped up to meet at the sailor’s torso. You grip the handles and start grinding, either forward or backward, and the sail trims up or down, which in turn changes the boat’s speed.
In the gym, grinding is a bit different. Team USA uses special grinding machines — sort of like trimmed-down ellipticals — that are rarely found in traditional gyms. Luckily, for us landlubbers, there are ways to train just like Team USA without the special machinery. The following workout, which is adapted from Team USA’s twice-a-week cardio and grinding session, is meant to blast the lower back, arms, lungs and heart. And it can be done in just about any gym.
Bermuda is more than a summer getaway. The volcanic archipelago is rich in history, mystery, adventure, golf and art that has inspired Georgia O’Keeffe, Homer Winslow and John Lennon. Read the Story