Canadian sailor James Juhasz disciplined in training, despite uncertainties

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By James Juhasz (in Malta)

It has now been two months since I moved to Malta to begin this new chapter in my life and sailing career and, with that, the end of my first full training cycle. It has been such a whirlwind that I have barely had a second to sit back and reflect on everything that has happened. From the minute I landed on the 30 km long patch of land in the middle of the  Mediterranean it has been non-stop; some of the hardest training of my life.

After my friend Peter from Ireland, I was the second sailor to arrive following the opening of the airport. My arrival was quickly followed by a procession of Belgian, British, Irish, and Latvian sailors all looking for some quality training after being locked down all spring. With most people only sticking around for 1-2 weeks, what followed was a  six-week period of high intensity training with fresh faces every few days to shake things up. Having spent the last few months with limited training in Kingston and no gym access, the first week was a shock to the system to say the least.

Not only did the club here in Ta’ Xbiex provide consistently strong breeze and large ocean swell, but the private (Covid Safe) yacht club gym had all the tools necessary for Greg (my trainer at the Canadian sports center back home) to prescribe me a beautifully torturous program designed to make up for lost time under the squat rack.

These six weeks were spent six days sailing on the water and 5 days in the gym, leaving only one day per week for rest. The rest day being Sundays upon my suggestion, so as not to miss any of the Formula one action! From the outside it is remarkable how similar each day looks.

  1. Wake up at 8 am to eat breakfast and prepare lunch.
  2. Out of the house with everything ready for the day by 9:45 am to be in the gym starting the daily workout by 10 am
  3. Warm up, workout, and stretch between 10 am and 12 pm
  4. Lunch from 12 pm -12:30 pm
  5. Debrief video from the previous day from 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm
  6. Launching on the water by 2 pm
  7. Coming off the water between 5:30 pm and 6 pm
  8. Derigging and home by 6:45 pm – 7 pm
  9. If you had any shopping to do, step 8 was done at lightning speed as the only shop within walking distance was not open Sundays and closed weekdays at 7 pm
  10. Then dinner and anything else you had to sort out for the day. In bed by 11 pm for a necessary 9 hours sleep to recover and be ready to do it again tomorrow

Average calories spent over this period: 4000 Kcal/day
Maximum one day: 5297 Kcal

As you can imagine with this level of strain, off days are precious — to be reserved only for sleeping and watching Formula One! Perhaps the biggest mistake of the entire trip so far was when, one Sunday, after a long windy week we decided to take the coach boats to “The Blue Lagoon”.

While this is quite possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been to, a full day of exploring, freediving, tubing and sunbathing left everyone exhausted, me with a minor yet annoying freediving related ear injury (oops), and anything but being ready for another long week ahead. Needless to say, the next Sunday the furthest I made it from my bed was the kitchen.

The last two weeks now have been just the full-time athletes here in Malta (myself, Vishnu from India and Aly from Egypt) and have been taken as half off, meaning gym sessions are still full effort but we are only sailing on particularly good days. This will complete our two-month cycle after which we will be going back to full time (six days a week) leading into Senior European Championships which will be my first time on the start line, since traveling to Australia for Worlds back in February.

The regatta schedule over the past month has been turbulent to say the least as regulations surrounding Covid-19 are in a constant state of flux. Our original hopes to be racing in Germany in September have dissipated: the Europeans which were originally to be held in Athens have been moved to Gdansk Poland after Greece closed its borders. Furthermore, there are rumours that the venue may be changed again to Vilamoura Portugal if the situation in Poland deteriorates.

Essentially, nobody knows what is happening and making any plans is pointless at this point. Luckily for us however we are in a central location with a set up that can be anywhere in Europe in a matter of a few days. If there is a regatta we will be there, and I will be more prepared than I have ever been to demonstrate the strides I have been making.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is reading this for their continued support on my journey to representing Canada on the Olympic stage. I hope to get these newsletters out more often now, since I am fully settled in my new home. For daily updates on the ins and outs of life as a full time athlete, you can of course follow me on Instagram @james.juhasz. If you wish to contribute to funding the Olympic dream, a tax deductible donation can be made at https://www.windathletes.ca/athletes/james-juhasz