Story: US Sailing Team Integrates Garmin into their Training Program

Luke Muller wearing the Forerunner 945 while working on his boat

In training for Tokyo, and while racing on Sagami Bay this summer, the US Sailing Team used Garmin wearables and handhelds to provide both sailors and coaches meaningful insights. It’s critical to track how well athletes’ bodies are performing, how fast the boats are going, and how the sailing conditions are changing to excel in our sport. Garmin devices allowed the Team to gather quantifiable data to support their preparation for the Games.

Throughout the five years leading up to this summer’s racing, US Sailing Team sailors used Garmin wearables from the Quatix and Forerunner series to track their fitness and boat performance on the water. The wearables are easy to use, and the every-second-recording feature gives detailed tracks, insight into every tactical decision, and data on how each maneuver is executed. Once sailors return to shore, the activity automatically syncs to the Garmin Connect Cloud, making it easy for sailors, coaches, physical therapists, and performance analysts to all access the data and give training feedback, even remotely.

Garmin’s Connect IQ SDK allows the team to further customize their use of Garmin devices with apps by customizing the activity function to process sailing data, and to show team coaches and sailors the metrics that they need in training out on the water. US Sailing Team Finn sailor and Olympian, Luke Muller, relied on tracking data from the app running on his Forerunner 945 to quantifiably compare different sailing techniques. “I would have speed over ground, average speed, and lap time tracking set on my Garmin. Sailing upwind I would look at the live speed to set the standard for my speed as well as understand my max speed. Downwind, I would set two marks to sail timed laps around and compare the lap times to quantify my speed differentials.” Especially during solo training sessions, Luke’s app gives performance feedback immediately allowing him to refine techniques in real time out on the water. The recorded information is also able to be used in data-driven debriefs back on shore with his coach. “My Garmin allowed me to clearly see the data behind my sailing to make the most of my training sessions,” he said.

Lara Dallman-Weiss derigging her boat while wearing her Fenix 6 Pro Solar

The strict regatta regulations at the Games permitted teams to carry navigation GPSs on board their coach boats during competition; no other electronics were allowed. The US Sailing Team chose the Garmin GPSMAP 86s as the best handheld marine GPS to take out on the water. The waterproof and floating formfactor was ideal on the 5.8m RIBs used as coach boats, where conditions can be rough and space is at a premium. The GPSMAP 86s handhelds were loaded with event racing areas, fishing exclusion zones, the “Field of Play” marks, and all navigational boundaries unique to the Olympic regatta. Teams are subjected to harsh penalties for crossing out of boundaries, and so full picture display of their location relative to boundaries was essential knowledge. Critically, coaches also used a man overboard function on the GPSMAP 86s to measure the currents in Sagami Bay without needing fixed reference points. Particularly after Typhoon Nepartak passed just to the North of Tokyo, these currents were strong and unpredictable, making them a key factor in racing strategy.

The US Sailing Team is already more than a year into preparations for Marseille and the 2024 Games. Thanks to Garmin, the US Sailing Team’s Performance Technology sponsor, every sailing session is more efficient. Thanks to the wide ecosystem of Garmin products, along with the SDKs data functionality and customization, the advancements in data utility are endless. Product and technology integration is key to maximizing the Team’s potential in 2024, and with just two more summer sailing seasons before the Games are here again, being efficient in training makes all the difference.

Quatix Watch, Forerunner 945 Watch, GPSMAP86s Marine Handheld