Background: The popularity of sports that expose people to consecutive days of high-intensity physical activity continues to increase. The ability to adequately nourish the human body to sustain the required level of competitive performance may be a key contributor to success in such events.
Methods: The energy expenditure of a male competitor in a single-handed, transatlantic race (Transat 2004) was assessed using the doubly-labelled water technique.
Results: Mean total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) during the race (13 days) was 14.5 MJ/day with a peak expenditure of 18.6 MJ during the most physically demanding 24-hour period.
Discussion: This mean TDEE was approximately 25% lower than that reported in a previous study (14.5 vs. 19.3 MJ/day) for a 13-day leg of a fully crewed offshore race. The difference in results was probably due to the fact that in the previous study, the crew operated in “watches” (work shifts), affording each crew member greater opportunity to eat, rest and sleep. Effective planning and efficient management of resources is essential to the success of the solo sailor. However, the extent to which maintenance of energy balance underpins competitive success remains to be established. To maintain energy balance during the race, a mean daily energy intake of 14.5 MJ/day was necessary for the subject in this study. However, this mean value for energy intake would have been inadequate to match the peak energy expended during the most physically demanding 24 hours of the race.
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Competing interests: None declared.