Luna Rossa: the team's chef tells us about the nutrition of sailors

We all know the importance of a healthy and balanced diet and the effects that it can have on health and on performance. If this is already valid for any amateur sportsperson, it is easy to see how, even more so, eating well and in a reasoned way can affect the performance of professional athletes, required to compete to the maximum. In the world of racing, and in particular in the America's Cup, the queen of regattas, crew members must undergo truly intense efforts, performing "to the limit" that can only be addressed by individuals with a powerful and versatile body, capable of combining strength, dexterity and a constant mental clarity.
To achieve these levels, you need an innate aptitude for sacrifice and natural physical qualities, developed to the maximum through targeted training sessions. Although this alone is still not enough: all this must also be accompanied by proper nutrition, and that's why cooking is of fundamental importance for crews who aim to win the 36th edition of the America's Cup.

The menu of the team Luna Rossa by Manuel Sanna

Food has always been passion and pleasure, all the more so when it is one of the few moments of leisure in busy days dedicated almost entirely to duty. This is why the role of Manuel Sanna, chef on board of the Luna Rossa Challenge team, is crucial.

My job is to structure a menu that is suitable for sailors. We rely a lot on local products (the team's base is in Sardinia, ed.) and in season, we focus a lot on quality. As far as carbohydrates are concerned, we try to limit them as much as possible, while we give ample space to proteins: many legumes, vegetables, fish at least twice a week, we alternate red and white meat, with a preference for the latter, and we very often use soups. Salad is never missing.

A far from simple task: in addition to serving the team healthy and perfectly balanced dishes, Sanna is called, in fact, to put on the table an inviting, rewarding and varied menu.

I try to structure the menu so that the crew does not find themselves eating the same things every week and trying to meet the different tastes.

In general, I have to say that most of the team particularly appreciates soups and grilled meat. To tell the truth, they'd be very happy even if I made them a cake from time to time, they often ask me, but we just can't. A high intake of sugar doesn't integrate efficiently with the diet agreed for athletes. The same goes for fried foods. You can undoubtedly say that breakfast and lunch are key stages in the typical day of the team: the first serves to give the charge, which comes through different types of milk and yogurt, coffee, cereals, dried fruit, cheese and cold cuts. The latter, however, as mentioned, varies from day to day and also becomes a moment of conviviality.
The athletic effort of the team is very important - the average daily consumption of water at the Base is three litres per person! - We try to help them in the best possible way: every day we prepare a milkshake based on hydrolyzed whey protein, containing berries and almond milk, which is combined with supplements used by the preparers during training sessions. Breakfast is served between 8.30 and 9.30, lunch between 12 and 13.30 and is a moment of relaxation and break very important on a physical and mental level.
While for dinner everyone organizes themselves independently, taking advantage of it to recharge their batteries with a view to the next day, it is easy to see how lunch in particular helps to cement the group. It is worth remembering that most of the group is made up of young people who are full of enthusiasm for an experience that, for many, is also the first at this level. Among them, the same Sanna, who will follow Luna Rossa also in the decisive days in New Zealand in 2021.
Going to Auckland with the team will be a completely new adventure for me, as this one too is, in the sporting field and at such a high level. Every day I learn new things, also thanks to the comparison with the athletic trainer Gilberto Nobili, who, while leaving me great freedom at the level of the menu, tries to understand the needs of the crew. When, for example, they put the boats in the water, they need to gain weight and have more energy, so in those days we move accordingly.

The route of Luna Rossa to the America's Cup

The path that will take Luna Rossa to face the Prada Cup, a competition that between January and February 2021 will determine which crew will be called to challenge the defender Emirates Team New Zealand for the 36th America's Cup, started from afar. Exactly since June 26, 2017, when in the waters of Great Sound, Bermuda, the New Zealanders imposed themselves on the Americans of Oracle regaining the "old pitcher". That's when Patrizio Bertelli's team launched the challenge glove, officially launching an adventure that will last more than three years, a period of time in which every day, every hour and even every nuance will count and can influence the final outcome.
Given the special nature of the America's Cup races, which involve a relatively short series of challenges, it will be essential for the team to maintain the level of performance at the highest level for several days, so Manuel Sanna will follow Luna Rossa to Auckland as well, studying the most suitable diet to face the challenge based on the roles played by the team on board the boat. It will be a targeted diet with attention to detail, prepared well in advance but that will still have to take into account any needs that may arise even at the last minute. This is why the role of the Sardinian chef is so important.

In the kitchen it is essential to work with a close-knit group to offer the best possible service. This is what happens here with Luna Rossa, we feel an integral part of the project and we are ready like everyone else to give our best day after day to achieve the final goal.

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