Luna Rossa and Technogym: the athletic preparation of the team

For those who are completely unaware of the subject, it is almost natural to link the image of a regatta on a sailing boat to something extremely relaxing from a physical and mental point of view: the sound of the sea, the warmth of the sun, the breath of the wind; aspects that, indeed, are an integral part of a world that, in reality, is extremely challenging and certainly not within everyone's reach.

Taking part in a sailing regatta, especially at the highest levels required by the America's Cup, is a commitment that can prove to be exhausting and that requires a complete preparation as few other disciplines in the world.

The members of the Luna Rossa crew, as well as those of the other boats that will compete at the Italian Challenger of Record for victory in the 36th edition of the oldest sports trophy in the world, must undergo rigorous daily training.
This is a necessary sacrifice to reach top physical and mental shape in the moment of truth, when every detail will count and can make a difference. The America's Cup "is not a challenge for the faint of heart". This is what the great Sir Peter Blake, a legendary New Zealand sailor and member of the Black Magic (Team New Zealand) crew capable of winning the "old pitcher" in 1995 and then defending it in 2000, talked about in the preface to his book Luna Rossa.
Tratto da ``Luna Rossa`` di Sir Peter Blake
It is not an undertaking to be taken lightly or on a whim. It's a fight between yacht club sailors all over the world who desperately want the same thing: to get their hands on the Cup. The prestige for the winner is worth more than any other sporting recognition. It's just winning the invincible and doing the impossible that fascinates seafarers, dreamers and billionaires. It takes extraordinary people, with ironclad motivation, great experience, attention to detail and unconditional dedication.
Racing for the America's Cup is a game of passion, of dreams, where in every moment of wakefulness (and sleep) you always have a single and unique thought: winning. The thought of winning never leaves you, but it is better to leave it aside and focus on a new goal: to be the best, in all aspects of the new challenge. Nothing can be left to chance, not even the smallest detail. But this doesn't happen just because you want it. You need a team of exceptional people who share the same dream and the same passion and who are not afraid of even the most unfavourable prediction.

Gilberto Nobili: the athletic preparation of Luna Rossa team

Gilberto Nobili, aka Gillo, was a team member of Luna Rossa in 2003 and 2007 in the role of grinder. He then went on, as sailor and systems performance specialist, to win the America’s Cup editions of 2010 and 2013 with team Oracle and in 2017 with Emirates Team New Zealand.
Gillo has also competed in several international events onboard TP52s, Maxi yachts and Extreme40s and sailed for four years (2004-2008) in the Star class with Francesco Bruni.
The 36th edition was his sixth America's Cup campaign.

Gilberto Nobili will be the protagonist of the next digital event part of the series Technogym Talks, where he will cover the topic "The training secrets of a world class sailing team".
The Technogym Talks are a cycle of exclusive webinars run by experts in the health, fitness and sport worlds brought to you to share their knowledge and experience.
On the Technogym Talk, taking place on May 5th 2021, thanks to Gillo’s unique experience in multiple Americas Cup competitions, we will have the chance to learn about how a successful team is built, from crew selection to athletic training and performance.

Sign up to the event

We asked some questions about the physical preparation of the crew of Luna Rossa to Gilberto "Gillo" Nobili, Operations Manager and responsible for the athletic preparation of the team led by Max Sirena.

Where do training sessions take place?

Out of seven weekly training sessions, normally one is held in the pool and the others at the Base. Of those at the Base, normally once a week we train outside (during the summer we also go to parks and beaches) and the other five times in the gym.
The Luna Rossa Base, located at the Ichnusa Pier in Cagliari and which will host the team until the departure for Auckland in 2021, when the 36th edition of the America's Cup will be staged, is the beating heart of Patrizio Bertelli's project. Here, inside the marquees set up for the occasion, the crew lives and works daily to pursue a dream: to bring the trophy to Italy for the first time.

What is your daily routine?

We do our morning training on a daily basis. Twice a week, we also do our afternoon training. In this phase, Saturday and Sunday are dedicated to recovery.

Our typical day is as follows:

  • morning training from about 7 to 9 a.m.
  • breakfast between 9 and 9.30 a.m.
  • work at the Base from about 9.45 to 16.15
  • afternoon training from 16.30 to 18.30.
As a demonstration of how intense the stress to which a sailor is subjected is, and of the very high physical standards required to compete with the best boats in the world, just think that during a race the hearts of the crew members beat on average between 85 and 90% of the maximum possible heart rate and that in the hardest training sessions, athletes can consume around 7000-8000 calories per day.

It is for this reason, as well as for the need to have a physical preparation that combines strength, elasticity and speed of movement, that in the past the participants of the America's Cup have been described as a mix between the cyclist Chris Froome and the sprinter Usain Bolt, two excellences in disciplines very different from each other.

How different are training sessions based on your role on the boat?

Until a month ago, we all trained together, doing the same exercises, albeit in different ways depending on the role. From now on, however, the afterguards will be training separately from the others for three days out of five, while the regatta grinder will focus more on specific weights and activities.

Do the roles on the boat require specific physical characteristics?

Apart from the afterguards, which have to be light and agile, the work is very similar for the others: it's about having a lot of strength to "turn the cuffs"!

To race in the America's Cup, we would like to stress once more, it's not something that everyone can do. The fundamental physical predisposition and hard training must necessarily be accompanied by great strength of character, necessary to deal with the long months before the races, and a quick mind in learning and processing information, even and especially in the inevitable moments of physical and mental stress that accompany the races.

Although the roles on board are quite distinct, all crew members must be able to perform any task, which is why it is essential that people very different from each other in size, age and background are able to achieve the highest standards required by the race.

Do you need specific and personalised programs?

You can't afford it. It would require too much organizational work and, if you want to be on the boat, you have to be strong enough to be there regardless of age. For the grinder, being strong means turning the cuffs. For afterguards it is important to have a sufficiently low weight and to be able to reason quickly even under physical stress. Then it can happen that afterguards will have to turn the handcuffs and, for this reason, they too, cannot be exempt from some work on force.
Gilberto Nobili has taken part in five editions of the America's Cup, winning in 2010 and 2013 with Oracle Team USA and in 2017 with Emirates Team New Zealand. After reaching these extraordinary goals, he returned to the Luna Rossa team, with which he had already competed in 2003 and 2007: his high-level experience will be decisive in pursuing what would be a victory destined to enter the history of this sport.

How do you manage to create in the gym the same situations that can occur during a race?

It depends a lot on how you designed the boat and how you plan to run it... In this respect, experience can be of great help. We all use Technogym equipment, from weights to grinder. In addition to this, we also do many bodyweight exercises.
Endurance, determination, discipline and will: these are the basic ingredients with which the team of Luna Rossa Challenge will face daily in the days that separate it from Auckland and from the challenge to the best boats in the world. In 2021 the America's Cup will celebrate its 170th birthday. What if for the first time the "old jug" arrives in Italy? The task is difficult, but certainly not impossible for those who really believe in it. In Sardinia, every day, Gilberto Nobili and his teammates work to turn their dream into reality.

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