• Written exclusively for SailGP.com by Great Britain SailGP Team Grinder Matt Gotrel

I wanted to share with you a quick blog on an area that I’ve becoming increasingly involved in with the team, fuelling.

We as athletes burn a lot of energy. The grinders at the front of the boat, including myself, will burn anywhere from 3000 to 6000 calories in a single day, depending on the conditions. The days are pretty intense.

To fuel ourselves properly, we need the right balance of carbohydrates and protein. That means we have to design and prepare our regular meals in the right way (breakfast, lunch and dinner) as well as how we snack (lots of nuts and muesli bars) and any additional supplements. We have to balance that with our planned activities too, for example, anything that requires a knife and fork isn’t very helpful on the water!

There are of course a lot of experts in that field and in helping the team now I draw on advice I’ve received from my time in Olympic rowing and the America’s Cup. Simply put, it’s hugely important to performance.

One area which SailGP rightly takes extremely seriously is its ‘Race For The Future’ – its ambition to be the world’s most sustainable and purpose-driven global sports and entertainment platform. As athletes within SailGP, it’s very important that we do our part.

Our fuelling programme is one area in which we can really try to minimise our impact as we move around the globe, it’s something we’re very conscious of. We try to, for example, avoid red meat where we can, and we have one vegetarian day at every event and work with Human Performance experts to ensure our meal plans provide all the right nutrition to meet the high demands of sailing the F50s.

That’s not to say it doesn’t come with its challenges. Take packaging, for example. So much food packaging still comes in plastic wrappers that are very difficult to recycle, especially things like the protein bars which we get through a lot of.

To find a sustainable solution we’ve recently started working with an innovative recycling company called TerraCycle. They provide us with boxes which means we can recycle previously unrecyclable wrappers and it gets made into products such as children’s climbing frames, benches and toys. It’s great to know that its being put to good effect.

How the food is stored is another area we’ve thought through a lot. We are now trialling ‘zero-waste’ boxes in our team, which are effectively stainless-steel lunchboxes that come with a leakproof seal so we can take them out on the water. In each instance we have also done research into how they are produced, to ensure they are made using the minimum amount of materials and waste. They are called zero-waste boxes because we produce zero waste when we use them, and they are being produced in a very minimalistic manner with low carbon impact.

Probably the biggest challenges remain in the areas that are outside of our control. As a global circuit we work with local caterers in each market who sometimes struggle to deal with the sudden surge in demand when we turn up. It’s all about planning ahead and giving them as much notice as we can, both in terms of the food we are after, and in what packaging it should be delivered in. We are getting there.

Making a positive impact is all about attacking every area of your operation to make sure we are being as sustainable as possible and its great that SailGP is encouraging us and giving us the platform to do so.

Until next time.

Matt Gotrel