In long-distance yacht races like the Route du Rhum getting the diet right is crucial to maintaining the strength, concentration and morale needed for the rigours of solo sailing.
“Everyone involved in the Route du Rhum, Destination Guadeloupe, men or women, young or old, French or foreign, have to nourish themselves, and drink enough water. It’s done with a mixture of dried, fresh and even gourmet products. The debate rages as to what’s best,” says euronews’ Rémi Pelletier.
It seems there is no one magic diet the sailors adhere to, and each has their own secret recipe for success.
“The food on board for the Route du Rhum is mainly freeze-dried, a bit of cereal, a bit of chocolate, cashew nuts, some of my mother’s delicious Christmas cake, which is very high in calories, a lot of tea and a little bit of milk for the tea. I’m English. It’s very important to stay hydrated, and it’s easy to forget to do that,” says skipper Miranda Merron.
It is easy to forget ocean racing is an extreme sport that makes huge demands on the human body at every level, so the right food can be a matter of life or death.
“We put in some very long days, often we don’t sleep much, so we can’t get sudden energy drops, we have to feed ourselves. We take care over what we eat, no junk food. I have vacuum-packed food, and I make sure I eat well, it’s the key to sleeping well,” says skipper Jean Galfione.
There are a brave few however for whom ocean racing is no excuse to scrimp on the good things in life:
“I have a top chef at the St. Placide in St. Malo cooking for me. He cooks me all my pasteurised meals. So I’ll have scallops, lobster, little risottos in lobster sauce, lobster soups…I could do worse I reckon!” laughs skipper Nils Boyer.
With fresh fish to supplement their diet, if they can land anything, sailors can enjoy a rich menu, if the weather allows them any respite that is.