Raptorsailor

Use of performance enhancing drugs in offshore sailing

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Is there any recorded use of performance enhancing drugs in offshore sailing? More particularly singlehanded offshore sailing. Considering the enormous advantages they could give to an offshore sailor such as amphetamines(?) which reduce the onset of tiredness along with modafinil which is allegedly a cognitive enhancer, (although results are inconclusive) along with allowing to stay up for 40(!) hours without losing any situational awareness, apparently. Other more 'normal' PED's such as EPO, adrenaline and maybe beta blockers, but also powerful pain killers could also help out an offshore sailor on extreme races such as the VG for example. I'm surprised how little there is on the internet about this, considering that it could probably have a bigger impact than in any other sports due to the unique requirements and environment of the sport. Are sailors in big races even tested for this, it would surprise me if they are. If anyone could enlighten me and others that would be awesome, I feel that this is an important subject that has been ignored/sidelined (unless I've done my research wrong) and that deserves much more attention. It would be cool to see a test one day to see just how much of an impact they can make. 

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Microdosing LSD would likely have fewer detrimental side effects than meth or Provigil. That and some good heroin ought to do it.

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Yes speed for staying awake when your on watch and sleep depraved. Steroids for the grinders, muscle means Watts/Power.! Diuretics for making weight. 

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Not exactly performance enhancing...

From Wikipedia:

In 2007 Simon Daubney tested positive for a recreational drug, but an America's Cup jury found that there was no fault or negligence and he was not sanctioned.[4][5] The decision was appealed by the World Anti-Doping Agency, and in January 2009, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) imposed a backdated two-year ban that lasted until July 2009.

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Had a guy crew for me on and off for a few years.  He was really good.

Anyway we were sailing in close company after a start one day and he said something disparaging about the skipper of the boat just above and behind us.

"So you know him (the owner)?"

"Ooooo yeah, did a few other coastals"

"So you didn't get on?"

"No, they were all permanently off their faces on speed, E, all sorts of shit, fucked up the watch system.  Didn't feel safe."

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As if sailing isn’t already expensive enough without PED’s!

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This thread gets started every year or so.  The answer is a resounding absolutely not.  The crashes after the drugs would lead to big periods of going slow, which would most likely occur at the most inopportune time.

Most of these guys even go as far as not drinking coffee nearly as much while on the water as the roller coaster of energy is not worth it.

 

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2 minutes ago, rmb said:

The crashes after the drugs would lead to big periods of going slow, which would most likely occur at the most inopportune time.

Maybe that's what happened to Alex recently.  Hard to believe that the solo guys don't have some shit on board for 'emergencies'.

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11 hours ago, Raptorsailor said:

Is there any recorded use of performance enhancing drugs in offshore sailing? More particularly singlehanded offshore sailing. Considering the enormous advantages they could give to an offshore sailor such as amphetamines(?) which reduce the onset of tiredness along with modafinil which is allegedly a cognitive enhancer, (although results are inconclusive) along with allowing to stay up for 40(!) hours without losing any situational awareness, apparently. Other more 'normal' PED's such as EPO, adrenaline and maybe beta blockers, but also powerful pain killers could also help out an offshore sailor on extreme races such as the VG for example. I'm surprised how little there is on the internet about this, considering that it could probably have a bigger impact than in any other sports due to the unique requirements and environment of the sport. Are sailors in big races even tested for this, it would surprise me if they are. If anyone could enlighten me and others that would be awesome, I feel that this is an important subject that has been ignored/sidelined (unless I've done my research wrong) and that deserves much more attention. It would be cool to see a test one day to see just how much of an impact they can make. 

I don't know much about this topic, but i can tell you that there are many controls on the Figaro circuit. During the "Solitaire du Figaro", they often control random sailors and the three first one, at the end of each race

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12 hours ago, Raptorsailor said:

Are sailors in big races even tested for this, it would surprise me if they are.

Excellent question.  I asked the same thing a week ago in the Route du Rhum and got shot down for it:

Most of the answers you have received here so far are jokes or "Of course not!" replies that mean nothing.  The so-called "crashes after the drugs" are a naive view that ignore the fact that drugs have long been used successfully for performance enhancement in many fields.  And the drugs have gotten much better.

I am not an advocate for drug testing in general but these big time, big bucks solo sail racing programs are ripe for abuse.  It's not complicated or too much to ask which races do drug testing at the finish?  And which do not?

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1 hour ago, ProaSailor said:

Excellent question.  I asked the same thing a week ago in the Route du Rhum and got shot down for it:

Most of the answers you have received here so far are jokes or "Of course not!" replies that mean nothing.  The so-called "crashes after the drugs" are a naive view that ignore the fact that drugs have long been used successfully for performance enhancement in many fields.  And the drugs have gotten much better.

I am not an advocate for drug testing in general but these big time, big bucks solo sail racing programs are ripe for abuse.  It's not complicated or too much to ask which races do drug testing at the finish?  And which do not?

I think if races like the VG, RdR and VOR don't test then sailors have probably used them, I'm looking more at the VOR here since the design aspect is no longer an issue performance wise.

 

5 hours ago, rmb said:

This thread gets started every year or so.  The answer is a resounding absolutely not.  The crashes after the drugs would lead to big periods of going slow, which would most likely occur at the most inopportune time.

Most of these guys even go as far as not drinking coffee nearly as much while on the water as the roller coaster of energy is not worth it.

 

But if the drugs are stopped in a controlled manner or even taken at regular interval allowing periods of rest, wouldn't it negate the effect of crashes after the drugs as you say? I can definitely see sailors using it if they have to send it to make the next weather train and have to be alert for 2 days or so in order to make it. 

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20 minutes ago, Raptorsailor said:

I think if races like the VG, RdR and VOR don't test then sailors have probably used them, I'm looking more at the VOR here since the design aspect is no longer an issue performance wise.

For sure.  The incentive would be far greater in the solo races (VG & RdR) than the fully crewed, multiple legs VOR, eh?  That's where the focus should be first.  If this topic comes up every year or so, it's because it hasn't ever been addressed properly?

23 minutes ago, Raptorsailor said:

But if the drugs are stopped in a controlled manner or even taken at regular interval allowing periods of rest, wouldn't it negate the effect of crashes after the drugs as you say? I can definitely see sailors using it if they have to send it to make the next weather train and have to be alert for 2 days or so in order to make it. 

Absolutely!  Despite what our mothers told us, cheaters DO prosper and crime DOES pay.  That's the whole point.

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9 hours ago, random said:

Maybe that's what happened to Alex recently.  Hard to believe that the solo guys don't have some shit on board for 'emergencies'.

There is an emergency drug available.  All the up without the crash.  Cannot remember what it's called but it was developed for soldiers and only there for emergencies, so it cannot be good for you.  I think I heard about it from. Dr. Claudio Stampi.

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VOR, Figaro and other Offshore Races definitely have drug testing by WADA. 

More to the point, having worked in VG and VOR teams I have never heard ofany sort of performance enhancing programmes. The people (especially RMB) who stated that they think the lows would outweigh the highs are correct, as far as i am concerned. 

I dont personally know of any drug that keeps the user on a performance high continuously for a week with no down sides... But then I have never bothered to look into it. There are still more gains to be found from having the right autopilot and polars imho. 

Additionally, if I am proved wrong and there is a program, then they should be banned from sailing forever. 

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Get a ADD diagnosis. Selectively take ritalin a week before starts continue thru event. 

Pretty clear improvements in cognition, including working memory, episodic memory, and inhibitory control. 

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For those interested, several years ago I did a complete study on how food and nutrition could help to combat fatigue for singlehanded sailors.  The paper I wrote was based on numerous university studies on a number of related topics.  PM me with your email address and I'll happily send you the paper.

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1 hour ago, Miffy said:

Get a ADD diagnosis. Selectively take ritalin a week before starts continue thru event. 

Pretty clear improvements in cognition, including working memory, episodic memory, and inhibitory control. 

Sounds good. But there are no studies with non ADD people taking this, people have used it, reported improvement, but that can be suggestive.
Longer time use it keeps you from sleeping well, so not good for long distance sailors.

I ( with a group of sailors) looked into it for fun years ago, there was nothing out there. Sailing is a weird sport, it is no sprint, even when asleep, you have to be awake in a few seconds when it goes wrong... etc.
That fighter plane drug, do not use it long term, you will crash.
https://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=123778&page=1

If there was something that enhanced without effects, all soldiers will use it. And it will be in our food too :)

If you have read Tinkerbelle, and connect the use of drugs and his weird night time storm stories you got it right, he was doped.

The races are under FFV, so under WADA.

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It's been part of academic doping for about a decade. The point of starting it a week before event and tapering off afterwards is precisely to not build a dependency and not let neuroplasticity undermine the boost. 

 

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Miffy, had a quick look, no evidence it works. As many feel it works as it does not. Seems like runners like to try it.
For instance Phelps the swimmer even stopped using it when he was young.

Oh, and its on the WADA list of banned substances.

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Sort of contradictory to say it doesn't work then ban it huh? Hence I said get a diagnosis so it applies under the TUE. 

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No, for some sports it works, but offshore, its not proven. But maybe you know more.
I do not want a sensory overload onboard, there is noises all the time on a 60. Its more getting into tune with what is an abnormal sound. Maybe this stuff helps.
I know my problem is the first days, and I need my sleep. Some can do almost without it and gain in the first days. while I am still adapting.
I would love to have a drug for that ... within the rules off course.

Here it was a problem with thyroid diseases, statistical to many speed skaters use thyroid replacement hormones. On doctors advice. And it can be used as a performance  enhancing medicine. Sounds great, easy to get more energy and loose weight you would think. I use this too as I have no thyroid any more. It takes years to fine tune that.
After 2 yrs starting to take this I still have sometimes crashes that are not really performance enhancing. While being under control every 6 weeks by a doctor specialized in endocrine systems. And having no thyroid any more I am an easy case for this medication, baseline is zero hormones.

So with any medicine that messes with your mind, if your not monitored it could go really wrong. And taking blood samples on an boat during the race, and analyse it, nah... impossible. So using ritalin looks very risky. Or do you have first hand experience ?

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Not directly applicable but there might be something brewing in boxing.

Felix Sturm was tested positive in 2016 is now getting prosecuted for self doping (up to 3 years) and more importantly aggravated battery (up to 10 years).
The prosecutor basically says that the waivers the boxers signed are void sine the doping meant more danger and damage to the opponent than what he did (and can) consent to.

That case will be a lot of fun. Boxing officials are not amused at all, so far they are firmly in the "What damage could doping possible do?" camp.

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This might seem a little out there but what about sleeping in an 'altitude tent' or similar  for the offshore singlehander? Cross-country skiers and certain tennis players currently use it, it is not so far as I know banned under WADA(even though it affects oxygen levels in the blood). It mainly helps with endurance and cardio recovery, but also general vitality. It artificially replicates aspects of high altitude training. 

Could it help 'supercharge' the short bursts of rest  and sleep that are few and far between for the offshore solo competitor and stave off the onset of fatigue over a multi week period?

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42 minutes ago, fufkin said:

This might seem a little out there but what about sleeping in an 'altitude tent' or similar  for the offshore singlehander? Cross-country skiers and certain tennis players currently use it, it is not so far as I know banned under WADA(even though it affects oxygen levels in the blood). It mainly helps with endurance and cardio recovery, but also general vitality. It artificially replicates aspects of high altitude training. 

Could it help 'supercharge' the short bursts of rest  and sleep that are few and far between for the offshore solo competitor and stave off the onset of fatigue over a multi week period?

Absolutely it would. Good point.

 

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Everyone has their own special mix...

What works for me on the first day out on a jaunt. A bit of melatonin in the mornings, some pseudoephedrine in the evenings. Its enough to wreak your circadian rhythm completely and get you into the watch system pronto.

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On 11/22/2018 at 8:33 PM, hoppy said:

and LSD for some inspiring navigation decisions...

funniest thing I've read on this site in a couple years

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Some older guys are now taking a small blue pill to enhance their performance when they get in. A few years ago we had a few likely lads that sailed around the course under their own little cloud of fragrant smoke. You could fail a drug test by taking their stern to close. 

 

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4 hours ago, LB 15 said:

Some older guys are now taking a small blue pill to enhance their performance when they get in.

Tell us about your experience with viagra!

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25 minutes ago, random said:

Tell us about your experience with viagra!

Oh you got that one did you mate? You are really coming on.

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You are one strange cat Randumb.

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Modafinil works. I'd be very much surprised if it wasn't being used in single handed events. And you can sleep on it. Makes your wee smell funny, though.

Students are all over it.

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Of course if you are "Susceptible to Malignant Hyperpyrexia under Anaethesia",  just getting a small dose of many of the things above is a death sentence.

 

So don't use any of the above near me unless you want to explain why you have a dead crewman..

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14 hours ago, tp#12 said:

Modafinil works. I'd be very much surprised if it wasn't being used in single handed events. And you can sleep on it. Makes your wee smell funny, though.

Students are all over it.

For the avoidance of doubt, I haven't seen or heard anyone in sailing talk about Modafinil. In fact, I haven't seen or heard anyone talking about it in Australia and I've been back here for 7 years now.

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My my.  Whole lot of ignorant assumptions and unfounded accusations being bandied about.  Must be a Sailing Anarchy thread.

We were not tested for the RdR.  And being around this crowd for a while,  I have never gotten even a hint of people using PEDs. As far as I can tell, the only person on the thread who is talking up drug use in this community who has any actual experience in the offshore scene is Miffy, so I hope the others don't mind if their "opinions" are given an appropriate amount of respect. It is, however, interesting that Miffy talks about usage. 

I agree with RMB... I can think of several specific reasons why PED side effects would have a negative impact on performance, and see very little value in the usual "benefits".  I have played around with caffeine in the form of beverages and Blocks and other supplements and have figured out that what ever benefit I get in temporary wakefulness results in a crash on the backside. All too often right when round three or four of whatever shitshow I was involved in was ramping up.  So I have moved away from caffeine altogether. 

As I understand things, typically PED usage is intended to provide a cardio benefit, a strength benefit or an energy level benefit.   It is a performance tool best used for situations when you have a predictable performan e demand, both for when you will need the performance and for how long.

Solo sailing has peak demand periods that are essentially unpredictable in terms of timing or regularity.  The front, the wind shift, reacting to decisions other boats might make. 

You are also doing it 24 x 7 for days on end. There is absolutely no way to artificially sustain an alert state with drugs that won't result in crashing in a massive way. 

As for muscle mass, you certainly want to be fit, but its lean mass is what you want, not bulk. So not much need for steroids. 

As for cardio, it's not as if you go into anaerobic deficit for sustained periods. So blood doping is not really that helpful for performance. Same for the altitude training.  

Bottom line, the doping and steroids have marginal benefit in this space and drugs meant to increase energy and alertness lead to as much downside as benefit. Far better to make sure you are disciplined about sleep management and nutrition. 

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Thank you RM for your real world, experienced analysis. And well done again.

 

 

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What about offshore events that (at least for the pro boats) last about one to three days, like Sidney to Hobart or Fastnet? This is exactly the time span you can very well stay up on amphetamine / amphetaminil / methamphetamine / modafinil / cocaine / teophyllin / whatthefuckningine? No need for a watch system, one crew will do it all the way. The "crash" (sleep 24 hrs and awake with a hangover) can very well happen onshore.

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On 12/18/2018 at 11:17 AM, The Q said:

Of course if you are "Susceptible to Malignant Hyperpyrexia under Anaethesia",  just getting a small dose of many of the things above is a death sentence.

 

So don't use any of the above near me unless you want to explain why you have a dead crewman..

MH only occurs after exposure to volatile anaesthetic agents (Sevoflurane etc) and Suxamethonium (Scoline)

What you are describing is probably Neuroleptic malignant syndrome - different but equally fatal!

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i guess some offshore races are just too long.... a big up/ long period of being awake leads to a big down/ long time of sleep.

both are unwanted results...

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Just now, daan62 said:

i guess some offshore races are just too long.... a big up/ long period of being awake leads to a big down/ long time of sleep.

both are unwanted results...

then again... amphetamine use in de second world war... it worked for quite some time...

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Regarding RM's comments on Caffeine, above.   Here is what I wrote about it in my paper on meal planning for improved performance in singlehanded sailing.  I'll gladly send the whole paper to anyone or pm's me with their email address:

 

Coffee is a contentious issue for sailors. Many singlehanders do not take any caffeine during a
race as a matter of principle. However, significant research has shown that this attitude might be
mistaken. 

Sharwood et al completed a lengthy study on long-haul truck drivers in Australia. The results
were startling: Nearly half of drivers reported consuming caffeine (coffee, tea, tablets, energy
drinks) for the express purpose of staying awake. These drivers who consumed caffeine had an
amazing 63% reduced likelihood of accidents compared to drivers who did not take caffeine.
Sharwood concludes that “the use of caffeinated substances could be a useful adjunct strategy in
the maintenance of alertness while driving.”

A study by De Valck and Cluydts found similar results, in particular for drivers who were
sleep deprived. They compared drivers using slow release caffeine or a placebo with 4½ hours
of sleep against drivers with 7½ hours of sleep. Driving performance was measured on a
simulator. Again, the results were startling; in the 4½ hour sleep group, the caffeine
counteracted the increase in lane drifting and resulted in lower speed deviation and accident
liability. Even under the more optimal conditions of 7½ hours of sleep, caffeine led to
performance improvement, albeit to a lesser extent. “The beneficial action of caffeine on driving
performance was observed 1 hour after administration and was still present after 5 hours.”
I think that long distance trucking is the closest real world comparable to singlehanded sailing.
Thus from these studies, singlehanders can conclude that caffeine can reduce fatigue and
improve reactions and overall performance. A 2014 study by Souissi et all showed that even
after 36 hours of sleep deprivation “caffeine is an effective strategy to counteract the effect of
36h of sleep loss on physical and cognitive performance.”

However, we want to guard against caffeine spikes and subsequent crashes. So when we speak
of caffeine intake, we are not talking of the 20oz Starbucks Vente. Rather, we should go back to
the 1970’s, when a cup of coffee really meant a cup, i.e. 8oz. A study by Ruxton concluded
that the range of caffeine intake that appeared to maximise benefits and minimise risk is up to
400 mg per day, equating to 4 cups of coffee or 8 cups of tea. Likewise a study by Gonzalez et
al looked at slow release caffeine compared to quick ingestion: The results suggest that the
rate of caffeine absorption following time-release ingestion was slower and more sustained over
8 hours, which may prolong the effects of caffeine and limit the acute crash state. Thus it is
better for the skipper to drink several 8 oz cups of coffee spread throughout the day. If 8 oz is
not enough of a nice hot drink, then perhaps 16oz mugs of black tea would be better, giving the
same amount of caffeine. I keep a thermos of coffee handy in the cockpit and have several
small cups during the day. Of interest, research suggested that habitual coffee drinkers appeared
to experience greater improvements in cognitive or mood effects compared to non-drinkers,
which is surprising as tolerance would be expected to blunt the effects. This was even the case
when the caffeine was given as tablets, rather than in coffee or tea.

Caffeine is often thought of as a diuretic, leading to net fluid loss through urination. But this has
proven to be a myth, particularly at moderate consumption levels. The most valid published
studies offer no support for the suggestion that consumption of caffeinated beverages as part of a
normal lifestyle leads to fluid loss in excess of the volume ingested. Therefore there would
appear to be no clear basis for refraining from caffeine in situations where fluid balance might be
compromised.

I do not offer the same level of support for caffeinated energy drinks such as Red Bull. These
drinks are loaded with sugar, the most simple of simple carbohydrates. An 8oz Red Bull
contains 27g of sugar, nearly 7 teaspoons full. Likewise some coffee drinkers put 4 or 5
teaspoons of sugar into their mug. Both of these situations will only lead to the fatigue problems
of simple carbohydrates mentioned elsewhere in this paper. A study by GE Gilles et al offered
a similar opinion: “The cognitive effects of glucose (i.e. sugar) were limited to slowing reaction
time.... “ However, in particular at study by Mainauskis et al looked at students who used
energy drinks to stay awake. Amongst subjects who used 3 or more cans for one situation (such
as studying for a major test) 57% suffered jolt and crash episodes (an increase in energy followed
by a sudden drop in energy) as well as headaches and heart palpitations.

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20 hours ago, Foolish said:

.... my paper on meal planning for improved performance in singlehanded sailing.  I'll gladly send the whole paper to anyone or pm's me with their email address:

trying to PM you but it says you can't receive messages ... any other way to contact you and get a look at your paper?

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I am about to go on a long walk with my neighbor.  Both the walk and the conversation will exceed anything a pill could do for me.

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Sorry some of you are having trouble messaging me so I've attached my article on meal planning, (including an ad for my new novel) to the bottom of this post.  I hope you have fun reading both.

Quote

I am about to go on a long walk with my neighbor.  Both the walk and the conversation will exceed anything a pill could do for me.

Actually, I discuss this in particular in my singlehanded tips book.  Simply walking in place on your boat for 10 minutes is a proven method of increasing blood to the brain and reducing fatigue/lethargy.  

SH Meal Planning.pdf

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On 11/23/2018 at 3:54 AM, rmb said:

This thread gets started every year or so.  The answer is a resounding absolutely not.  The crashes after the drugs would lead to big periods of going slow, which would most likely occur at the most inopportune time.

Most of these guys even go as far as not drinking coffee nearly as much while on the water as the roller coaster of energy is not worth it.

 

Haven't read every response, but this one is spot on for distance racing. I have a coffee when I'm coming onto my night watch and that's about it. I wan't to be able to sleep when I get off watch, and an amphetamine wouldn't allow that. It's much better to get into a regular pattern of awake 5 hours, sleep 3 (it takes an hour or so to get undressed and wind down in a bunk before crashing). Ryan covers the solo aspect well in his comment. Only time I can see the benefit is when it's a life or death situation that you need to stay awake (sailing near lee shores, AT...).

In the world of Grand Prix sailing I know of several people who take adderall when they sail. This is mostly for OD and big boat regattas. I've tried it too and it's helpful with the right dose, maybe would give you an edge when everything else is 100% perfect.

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On 1/3/2019 at 5:01 PM, Foolish said:

Sorry some of you are having trouble messaging me so I've attached my article on meal planning, (including an ad for my new novel) to the bottom of this post.  I hope you have fun reading both.

Actually, I discuss this in particular in my singlehanded tips book.  Simply walking in place on your boat for 10 minutes is a proven method of increasing blood to the brain and reducing fatigue/lethargy.  

SH Meal Planning.pdf

It was a great read when you first sent me it. Thanks again.

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When I was running ultra distance races, I followed the EXACT diet in the book "Born to Run." When I raced the Bermuda 1-2, I combined a running program and meal prep for the boat with the same diet in mind. the biggest difference I found in running this diet was the use of Chia seeds as a supplement. That's the only 2 cents I'm going to provide on the subject.

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Apparently Windward Passage II had a real problem with ants on board, you could often see Ant Sand dusting the chart table.

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Hey Jason, I used that Born to Run diet on the 1-2, except for the Doritos, Twizzlers and gummy bears.  (Every man's gotta have a little poison).

But the idea of PEDs/speed?? Never seen it or heard it amongst the solo and double community. 

Jason, I hope the keel is ok. Still considering the 1-2 this year?

 

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