The role of the grinder is the most physical onboard F50 Eiger. The two positions at the front of the boat create all the energy for trimming the wing sail, powering all the manoeuver, and adjusting the heel and ride height of the F50. All done whilst at max heart rate.
Step forward, Julian ‘G1’ Rolaz and Jeremy ‘G2’ Bachelin. Rolaz’s role is to trim the wing and be the ‘power unit’. onboard He faces backwards so that he can have a good look to see the wing, to see if it's open or closed.
Bachelin races forwards so he can see the jib and uses buttons to activate the trimmings; also, by using his foot, he can trim the jib sheet. Out of the two, G2 is kept ‘fresher’ so they can be more focused on the manoeuvers and tactics.
With season 3 wrapping up later this week, we look at the intense training and testing programme the duo has been undertaking with trainer, Sean Seale of Nyon based Upside Strength, to have them performing at their top physical peak, come race day.
TRAINING & TESTING:
“I've been working with Julien on and off as his Strength and Conditioning coach since he was playing rugby [for the Swiss national team]. Then in October 2021, around seven months out of the team’s first ever SailGP race in Bermuda, we came back together to work on his SailGP programme.
I started working with Jeremy in December 2022, which was around halfway through season 3. He was looking for some more structure and coaching for his training. Although they both race in the grinder position, they do not have the same programme. It is quite different and individualized because their respective levels and their needs are quite different.
Training wise they are both self-sufficient, each set up with a Technogym grinding machine home, but we are always communicating and debriefing. I only need to see them every few months or so when there's some testing to be done. Learning how they function and understanding how their bodies react, plays a big part in how we move their training programmes forward.
Their training is usually organized in blocks of around 4-8 eight weeks, but it’s mostly geared around the SailGP racing calendar. Then all the testing sessions we do together are tailored towards a specific goal that we are specifically working towards, and making sure that the training is sustainable for them over time and they don’t burn out.
It's easy to do a lot of work over a short period of time, but making sure that they can maintain their level and be fit and healthy over multiple years is the key.
The majority of their training is done on the grinder. They also do some biking, some cycling on the side and some strength training - Jeremy does more strength training than Julian because he needs to focus more here and build up.
When I do see them, it’s because we're doing a testing session. These tests are in 20-minute sessions and it is always quite technical, they will be working out whilst wearing a mask to measure VO2. Essentially, we are looking at how much oxygen their body is consuming during an effort, and it also measures how they breathe, how big a breath they take and how many breaths per minute.
We also look at lactate. I take lactate samples after every step on the test. It's usually a step test where we go four minutes on, one minute off and we do about 10 steps starting from a very low effort. We work up and up and up all the way to pushing the hardest at 10/10.
The idea is to see the changes in their physiology throughout the intensity and this allows us to individualize the different training intensities. The tricky part about conditioning is that some of the most important information we use to individualize training comes from those submaximal intensities. So we can't just base training zones on percentages of a 20’ test or percentages of HRmax. Each athlete will have their own training zones and these zones will change over time, as they progress. It’s a vital part of their training.
We also try to look at how their body functions at different intensities and then we base their future training programme off of those. We retest certain things periodically to assess the progress and see what the effects of the training has been on their physiology, and then try to just keep optimizing it bit by bit as we go along.
To help measure progress, the feedback of the athlete counts a lot. If either says that they're feeling good and that they are performing better, that's worth just as much as if there's more watts on any given test. But we do obviously look at the numbers and analyze the data too.
Between December 22 and Feb 23 we were able to get Jeremy from 212w to 239w on his 20’ test. This was a significant jump in performance for him. And while the 20’ test is a good general test of fitness, it doesn’t fully compare to racing onboard the F50!
I also get detailed feedback from the guys after each SailGP event and try to tailor their training so that they feel as good as possible on race day. For Jeremy recently, that meant more sprints on the grinder and more strength training.
On the other side, Julien already had fantastic performances going in, with a 20’ test above 310w (average power). Over the winter, we focused on developing his base so that he could train better and maintain his health over time. So his 20' performance didn’t improve, however his recovery increased dramatically and he feels the difference in training and on race weeks as well.
Chasing numbers is important, but it should never come at the expense of the athlete’s health. With the arrival of his son Henri, Julien will be facing additional challenges with his sleep and recovery, which has to be taken into account.
It’s been great working with both Julien and Jérémy throughout Season 3 and seeing their progress. They are very dedicated to their training and they have also helped me learn a lot about their sport and what can be done to improve their performance.
I look forward to continuing collaborating with the team, to move into next season which kicks off in June!”