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Medicina dello Sport 2010 June;63(2):239-54


language: English, Italian

Incidence of injuries and illnesses in 32nd America’s Cup yacht racing

Belli A. 1, Della Bella G. 1, Mollo M. L. 1, Garcovich C. 1, 2, Foti C. 1, 2

1 Ph.D Advanced Tecnhnology in Rehabilitation Medicine, Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy 2 PRM School of Specialization Tor Vergata University, Rome Italy


Aim. To determine the incidence and severity of injuries and illnesses incurred by a professional America’s Cup yacht racing sailing crew during the preparation for and partecipation in the challenge for the 2004/2007 America’s Cup in Valencia.
Methods. A prospective study design was used over 36 months of sailing and training. All injuries and illnesses sustained by the 35 professional male crew team members requiring medical treatment were recorded, including the diagnosis, nature, location, and mechanism of injury. The volume of sailing and training were recorded and the severity of incidents were determined by the number of days absent from both sailing and training.
Results. In total, 380 injuries and 180 illnesses were recorded, with an overall incidence of 10.6 incidents/1000 sailing and training hours (injuries, 7.3; illnesses, 3.3).
The upper limb was the most commonly injured body segment (40%), followed by the spine and neck (30%). The most common injuries were joint/ligaments sprains (27%) and tendinopathies (20%). The incidence of injury was significantly higher in training (17.2) than sailing (4.4). The most common activity or mechanism of injury was non-specific overuse (24%), followed by impact with boat hardware (15%) and weight training (13%). “Grinders” had the highest overall injury incidence (15.4), and “bowmen” had the highest incidence of sailing competition injuries (6.4). Most of the illnesses were upper respiratory tract infections (44%).
Conclusion. The data from this study suggest that America’s Cup crew team members are at a similar risk of injury to athletes in other non-collision team sports. Prudent allocation of preventive and therapeutic resources, such as comprehensive health and medical care, well designed conditioning and nutritional programmes and appropriate management of recovery should be adopted by America’s Cup teams in order to reduce the risk of injury and illnesses.

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