Conquering the World with Brunel Sailing, on the Volvo Ocean Race
By Radix Team 23/05/2018 12:00 pm

The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race is an epic 45,000 nautical mile journey around the world, across four oceans, touching six continents, through some of the most challenging conditions imaginable.  It is both physically and emotionally demanding, pushing bodies to the limit and keeping sailors away from family and friends for weeks or months at a time over the nine-month-long race.

Team Brunel and the Volvo Ocean Race | Credits: Team BrunelAsk Team Brunel, one of this year's elite teams, and they'll tell you, it's also rewarding. "It's all about sending that boat through the waves as fast as possible. Being out there all alone and enjoying nature in its purest form is amazing."

But, with every team running an identical boat design, it takes special sailors, with the most advanced, world-class tools to succeed under such challenging conditions.

One such tool offering a potentially huge advantage? Nutrition.

"We definitely really enjoyed the Radix meals. The food programme is quite key on this boat; to keep the morale up, keep everyone's energies up, keep the muscle on, keep the weight on. So, the better the food you're going to have, the better you're going to go."

Peter Burling | Team Brunel | Volvo Ocean Race
interview | 7 April 2018

Life out on the Volvo Ocean Race isn’t your typical kind of day. Rather, ‘days’ are eschewed in preference of a system based around ‘4 hours on’ and ‘4 hours off’.

Within your ‘4 hours on’ you have two hours that you're directly sailing the boat and two hours that you're assisting new crew members have just starting their watch sailing the boat. In the following ‘4 hours off’ you have to eat, sleep, and do all the other tasks for living at sea boat like making repairs or preparing meals for the team for example (yes – all in four hours!).

How does this staccato sleeping schedule affect performance and recovery capabilities? Dramatically. But with the right training and nutrition, these sailors find a way to survive (and the best ones, like those on Team Brunel, thrive).

Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Auckland to Itajai, day 07 on board Brunel. "Best risotto in my entire life" says Carlo Huisman. 24 March, 2018.

The first two days into any Leg and it’s always a struggle to get into your rhythm but after those first 48 hours, it’s business as usual for Team Brunel’s sailors. They get used to it. Of course, it’s true that your energy level is weaker after two weeks on the ocean; and being offshore on the boat isn’t perfect for recovery. But with every boat is facing the same issues, it’s to Team Brunel’s advantage that they have some experienced and talented sailors in their crew (including World Sailor of the Year, New Zealand’s own Peter Burling). This, combined with good food to fuel those sailors, provides an unmatched advantage.

"By far the most tasty and nutritious freeze dried meals we have tried to date, and believe me we’ve eaten a few meals along the way... 218 freeze-dried meals to be exact! Another 76 meals to go to the finish! Highly recommended the Beef and Ginger and the Wild Venison."

Abby Ehler | Team Brunel | Volvo Ocean Race
via | 5 April 2018

Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Hong Kong to Auckland. Peter Burling fuels up with Radix Nutrition.With such demands on body and mind, it is easy to see why having access to quality nutrition is key for the team. In everything they do and all the products they use, they’re aiming for the best. To achieve this with their race fuel, every day they aim to consume a nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner - all based on freeze-dried and long-life products, then load out their extreme calorie requirements (ranging up to 7000 calories a day!) with a certain number of snacks, consisting mainly of energy bars.

With freeze-dried meals being a primary food source, there are some key considerations when looking for the right ‘tools'. For every team, it all starts with the calories – consuming 7000 calories takes some effort - but those teams looking for more of a competitive advantage know that not all calories are created equal. While ‘energy in' vs ‘energy out' is the starting point for building the nutrition plan for such an endeavour as the Volvo Ocean Race, the real difference-makers are ingredient and nutrient quality. 

And don’t forget that you always enjoy food more when it tastes good and you have a diverse menu – you don’t want to eat the same three meals for nine months!

"Dinner is a (genuinely) tasty Radix venison stew. The crew is continually amazed how the meat actually feels and tastes like meat. Freeze dry pioneers!"

Sam Greenfield | Team Brunel | Volvo Ocean Race
via | 30 April 2018

Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race from Itajai to Newport, day 04 on board Brunel. 25 April, 2018.

The ability to eat a variety of tasty, colourful, ‘real food' full of quality macro and micronutrients can offer every athlete a sizeable edge. One that Team Brunel recognises; leading them to make contact with Radix Nutrition, to request our help in fueling their sailors to victory.

It has been an exciting journey so far, blending the challenges of launching our new state-of-the-art production facility with creating a selection of customised ‘team level’ nutrition options, supplemented with our 'off the shelf' offerings – and, of course, fitting it all around the very tight schedules created by the Volvo Ocean Race in-port stopovers.

And, the journey’s not over yet for Team Brunel…

Heading into the final stretch of the race the feeling on Team Brunel is one of positivity and excitement. They currently sit third on the scoreboard (and – at the time of writing this – are out in front on Leg 9 of the Race, with double points on offer) and see plenty of opportunities remaining for a great result. What will that result be? That’s something we will know when we’re at the ultimate destination in The Hague at the end of June – but all the team here at Radix Nutrition are cheering on Team Brunel and are enjoying watching them #AchieveGreatThings.

Editor's Note: Team Brunel continued their charge up the leaderboard and commenced the final leg of the race tied for first place. An overall First placing was elusive, however. None the less, a well-deserved podium finish was earned. A great result and a truly amazing climb from bottom of the pack to nigh unstoppable in the second half of the race. Well done team!


Images courtesty of Brunel Sailing, and the Volvo Ocean Race.