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Coping with Seasickness on the Volvo Ocean Race








Coping with Seasickness

Racing in the Volvo Ocean Race, the world’s premier ocean race, is tough
at the best of times.  It’s hard to picture what it must be like to live
onboard a stripped out racing machine, which is what the V.O.60 class is,
for weeks on end, in cramped conditions with 11 other people.  It’s either
freezing cold or unbearably hot.  It’s wet and it’s uncomfortable at best.

The six sleeping bags are constantly damp and are shared between the 12
crew.  It’s hard, no, almost impossible, to stand up when the boat is
pitching through heavy seas.  Your body is cold and exhausted and on top
of that, you are feeling wretched.

Seasickness is one of the most debilitating illnesses and it can affect
anyone, even the world’s most professional racers, leaving you demotivated
and afraid to move.  Can you imagine what it must feel like for the Volvo
Ocean Race crews who must press the boat hard, day and night, while
suffering from seasickness?

Volvo Ocean Race first-timer, Chris Nicholson from Amer Sports One,
explains how it feels,  “You’re falling asleep all the time on deck
because you’ve already been sick and so you’re through that stage and
you’re pretty much debilitated.

“It’s like your worst hangover plus it affects the whole body, it’s not
just your mind or your stomach, it really does affect the whole body.
When you’re that sick you’re trying so hard not to move around anywhere,
you’ve got no energy and you’ve got no control over where you’re moving so
you just keep the body as still as possible.  Usually in the fetal
position – that is what the body does.

“These boats are undermanned and you’ve still got to sail.  The guys would
probably let you stay in your bunk, but you just can’t, as you just have
to get on and do your job.

“There’s no eating because that just comes straight back up.  But you
still have to try and keep some fluids up, if you can, have a protein
shake or something like that, but even that tends to come up as well.  You
just have to keep the liquids up and stop the food.”

Emma Westmacott from Amer Sports Too is another sufferer.  “Seasickness is
something that seems to be catching more and more of the sailors on this
race.  I don’t know if it is something to do with the boats becoming more
aggressive, but a lot of people who don’t normally have a problem are
coming down with it.

“I haven’t been seasick for years, but in the first leg I came down badly
in the Bay of Biscay.  It’s a feeling that you just want to jump off the
side of the boat and end it all.   It’s miserable, you don’t feel like
doing anything, you get lethargic and you get tired.  You loose interest
in anything except in how manky you feel and pretty much each time you
move, or change your environment, you end up throwing up.

“You have to go down below and take all your clothes off.  You just sit on
deck and you just think, ‘how am I going to get down those steps, take my
foul weather gear off, be thrown around, hang it up and get into my bunk
without being sick?

“And then once you have taken your foulies off, it is all over, because
you can’t come up on deck to be sick because you would get soaking wet.
People get wet and then they get cold.  It is just an ever-decreasing
circle.

“It is something that you have to combat early or accept the fact that
that you have a problem with it.  Once you actually are sick, it’s very
hard to get better and you only get better when the breeze subsides.”

Seasickness is something that the body can overcome, as the body
acclimatizes to being at sea, and so it is normally in the first few days
at sea when the crews are at their most vulnerable.  On leg two, the fleet
set sail straight into a gale and this didn’t help those trying not to
succumb to seasickness.

On day two of leg two, from Cape Town to Sydney, Ross Field, wrote from
onboard News Corp, “What a start...  it would have to be my worst first
night at sea for a long time.  Big seas, on the wind, bashing and crashing
into a 38-knot southeasterly, crew seasick, no one eating, inside of the
boat a shambles.  Horrible....

The same day, Roger Nilson, the navigator and qualified medical doctor
onboard Amer Sports One, and also a veteran of five round the world races,
wrote, “Not too many people lined up to make dinner last night and even
fewer were interested to eat. Most people on our boat did not feel very
well at all and more then half of the crew threw up, including myself. It
takes a few days to get the sea legs back in form. This morning we had our
first hot meal since the start.”

There are various remedies on the market to help combat seasickness, and
the Volvo Ocean Race sufferers have tried most of them.  Chris Nicholson
has been trying the stick-on patches that you place behind the ear.  The
patches slowly release a chemical.   He says he thinks they work and Emma
Westmacott agrees.  Chris wasn’t actually sick on the last leg, but admits
he was close!  He also recommends Stugeron tablets, but adds that these
two things do not actually stop you from being sick, they just try to
control it and he hasn’t found anything yet that is actually preventative.

FOR MEDIA INFORMATION
Race Head Quarters Press Office
Tel:            +44 1489 554 801
Email:          press@VolvoOceanRace.Org
www.VolvoOceanRace.org

Contact in Auckland:
Mark Howell, Media Director, +64 21 567024
Lizzie Green, Race Press Officer, +64 21 567026


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