Training and kit wisdom from one of sailing's top athletes

How a sailing athlete prepares for the sport's most physically demanding role
Training advice from a sailing athlete

In our Checklist series of interviews we feature amazing people doing inspirational things in the world of fitness and the outdoors. This week we speak to Richard Mason, one of the grinders for the Great Britain SailGP team, a role which demands an enormous level of physical fitness and strength – so much so that the team run a nationwide search for athletes that fit the bill.

Here we speak to Richard about the training and kit that go into making a SailGP powerhouse.

What projects are you currently working on?

I'm currently sailing with the Great Britain SailGP team, a new global sports championship raced in 50ft foiling wingsailed catamarans. The aim is to ‘redefine sailing’ by racing the fastest sailing boats in the world in a way that puts fans at the centre of the action.

What was the last thing you trained for?

I've spent the last year training for my role in this team but before that I've done a number of things, including an Olympic campaign in the 49er class, solo offshore racing including a 16-day race alone and other fast boat regattas like the Extreme Sailing Series. All of these involve a mixture of different physical and mental challenges.

The Checklist Richard Mason

What kind of schedule/program do you follow?

The goal is to win the SailGP championship (it’s not just the glory, but there’s £1,000,000 prize). The interesting thing about these boats is that the technology is so new, we are still learning the best way to sail them – so my role evolves as we improve. Certainly, physicality is a very key aspect of this so I spend a large proportion of my time in the gym when I’m not on the water.

A typical training week would involve 4-5 strength and conditioning sessions as well as 5-7 grind sessions. Depending on the block of training I'm doing, the grinds range from 35-minute inverval/sprint sessions to 60 minutes of steady work. I also include quite a lot of rotator cuff stability work to keep the shoulders healthy.

How do you evaluate your performance of a training session? What does a successful one look like?

Together with our physiologist Alex Hopson, we use testing to set numbers for our sessions. The easiest read out to use on the grinding machine is watts. If I can hit my numbers for the session, then it’s a good session.

What’s next? What events/challenges/projects are you looking forward to/training for now?

Our next event is our home event in Cowes, UK on the 10/11 August. I can’t wait to sail these boats on home waters, I think the Great British public are going to be very surprised at how impressive the F50 is.

The Checklist Richard Mason

What do you think will be the next big movements in health and fitness?

I think that as fitness tech becomes more integrated into everyday life, people will be getting more bespoke and appropriate goals and workouts

What trainers do you use?

Inov-8 Flite 260 (Inov-8 / Amazon – $140). I am on my third pair of these and they are the best all-around shoe I have worn. I can lift in them, run in them, even sail in them and they take everything in their stride.

The Checklist Richard Mason

What apparel do you use?

When sailing we use Gill. The team have partnered with Gill because of their desire to innovate and design kit for some of the most extreme boats on the planet.

What are the key items in your kit bag?

What one item of your gear would you implore someone else to use?

A vibrating foam roller

Where’s the best place you've ever trained or competed?

Lake Garda, Italy. The food, scenery and sailing is all amazing.

What’s the exercise you hate doing the most?

Pistol squats – not so much at the time but always two days after.

Quickfire questions

What’s your ultimate workout song?

At the moment ‘Happy Song’ by Bring Me The Horizon is topping the most played list.

How many push-ups can you do in one go?

65 flat out, but normally we test at 60hz tempo – 1 second up, one second down.

If you could compete/train anywhere in the world where would it be?

Back to Lake Garda!

Who’s your fitness/sporting hero?

My Dad. He’s also a professional sailor and been at the highest level of the sport his whole life.

Is there any sport you’re really bad at?

Golf. It should be easy to hit the ball with the stick. It isn’t.

What’s your favorite post-competition/challenge meal?

Tomato pasta and salad, I could eat it all day.

The world’s fastest sail racing boats are coming to Cowes with the SailGP global Championship on 10-11 August. Expect high speed, high tech and high drama in a thrilling nation-versus-nation battle. Tickets now on sale at

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