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Battling the elements: Success on the water

Jan. 3, 2012 - 12:32PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 3, 2012 - 12:32PM  |  
Coast Guard Lt. Nicole Auth — Team sailor
Coast Guard Lt. Nicole Auth — Team sailor (Courtesy of Nicole Auth)
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Sample Day:

• Breakfast: A banana, two Cutie oranges and a Clif bar
• Lunch: Lower-calorie frozen meal, typically Amy’s brand because it’s vegetarian, organic and tastes good.
• Dinner: Cooks at home because it’s cheaper and healthier. A typical meal is a salmon burger on bread thins with mayo and spinach or greens, kettle-cooked potato chips, and Moroccan couscous that she we cooks in a pot and then puts it in a wok with stir-fry spinach, garlic, onions, sundried tomatoes and pine nuts.
• Snacks on long sailing days: Energy bars and peanut butter.
• Guilty pleasure: Cookies or half a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich.

Not only does team sailing test your endurance, team dynamics and balance, it puts you at the mercy of the elements, often for long periods. But you don't need to tell that to Coast Guard Lt. Nicole Auth, whose team recently won bronze at the Military World Games — a first-time accomplishment for U.S. sailors.

That team victory and her volunteer commitment to teach kids how to sail recently won Auth the designation of Coast Guard Elite Female Athlete of the Year.

"It's important to consume enough calories, water and electrolytes when sailing," Auth says. "You are on the water for a long time and need the energy, so, as a team, we are constantly checking on each other with reminders to eat and drink."

In sailing, a boat's crew has to meet a minimum combined weight depending on weather conditions, and every pound counts for speed. Since it's such short notice, teams can't do much to vary their weight, but if they're going to be sailing in heavy winds the next day, each member may eat some extra dinner to make the boat ride lower in the water. Conversely, if they find out the next day will bring light winds, Auth said her team goes light on food.

Diet overview: Auth balances her meals with protein, grains and lots of vegetables. Being stationed in Hawaii and now Alaska, she's used to eating lots of good, healthy fish, and her current favorite meal is fish with salad and couscous. She loves Thai food is her favorite, but she's prone to seasickness so lays off it around competition time and eats milder foods instead — "so that I can keep it down." She usually drinks only water and tries to finish a couple of large bottles during the work day. She takes vitamin D to offset the long, dark Alaskan winters.

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