Cruel and unusual punishment is how the youngest Volvo Ocean Race sailor Rome Kirby described the conditions that sapped about 22 pounds of his body weight during the race from the Maldives to China.
Minutes after stepping off the boat, the physical signs of a body pushed to the extreme were obvious.
The 22-year-old American’s lips were chapped and his ears were crisp from the sun. His eyes were bloodshot from just three hours’ decent sleep during the prior two days and his clothes were hanging off his frame because of the all too obvious weight loss.
“How do I recover from this,” he says repeating the question. “I eat and sleep, that’s all I’m going to do.” His lips then crack as they stretch into a smile at the sight of a cold can of beer. “Oh, now this is recovery.”
The teams endured roasting heat with temperatures below deck reaching in excess of 40 degrees Celsius, fueled by the equatorial sun and soaring sea temperatures of more than 30 degrees.
Sure, they had tiny wall mounted fans that they moved from bunk to bunk with each tack, but there was no iced water or even a cool breeze to give any relief Kirby said.
“It was definitely really draining,” he said. “I started the race at 203 pounds, now I’m probably 181 pounds; I’ve probably lost 22 pounds. I eat tons, it’s just you can’t keep up with what you’re burning. Then there’s the water weight, you’re always dehydrated no matter how much you drink, you’re just tired and you just can’t keep up with it. I feel weaker than I did in Alicante. I felt pretty fit in Alicante, now I’m like, I can’t lift anything.”
Returning home for some rest and recuperation, Kirby said he was unlikely to be having a typical action packed homecoming of surfing or ice hockey. Instead, he would be forced to “put his feet up” in preparation for the Sanya In-Port Race on February 18 and the 5,220 nautical mile race from Sanya to Auckland, which starts on February 19.
Courtesy of www.volvooceanrace.com.