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January 5, 2017

World-class training at sea

Getting fit and staying fit is a popular topic during this time of year. For many, it’s a hard enough prospect to commit to exercising during their daily grind, and one that only gets infinitely harder while cruising on a boat. And just consider a competitive athlete spending long days at sea and trying to maintain a high level of fitness. It doesn’t seem possible.

But Nordhavn owner Crissy Fuentes has found a way to do just that. The one-time collegiate tennis stand-out participated in her first Ironman triathlon in 2007 and ever since has been running, swimming and biking her way to success in competitions from Lake Placid to Kona, HI. Her talent and commitment to a rigorous training schedule allowed her to excel and stay at the top of her game for years, winning several Ironmans and earning the world #1 ranking for her age group in 2014. An Ironman race is not for the faint of heart: competitors must complete a consecutive 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride, and marathon 26.2-mile run.

When Crissy and husband Jose signed the contract on their Nordhavn 63 in 2014, she thought, bittersweetly, that her days of Triathlons were over. “When you’re long range cruising, training becomes secondary,” she said. But the engineering team at Pacific Asian Enterprises (PAE) believed there had to be a way that Crissy could keep up her training while underway.

The first solution was to make room for a treadmill, but Crissy vetoed it because she knew “running on a treadmill at sea would be impossible.” She began doing some research about installing a bike. If properly mounted, she should be able to stay upright while spinning – even if the boat was rolling a bit. The solution was to transform the captain’s cabin behind the pilothouse settee into a training room, equipped with a stationary bike and single off-watch berth. A large window opens up the pilothouse’s views to Crissy while she’s training and allows her to plug into her music and still be an active first mate. (“Originally PAE had the bike down in the laundry area. That would have been boring!” she said.)

Although Crissy has yet to stand watch while she’s training, she’s certainly equipped to. The bike synchs with an app on her iPad that adjusts intensity levels based on different courses randomly picked by the program. But she could easily Bluetooth into the boat’s nav system and operate the Autopilot via the iPad.

She spends a couple of hours every day while at sea on her bike. At this point, the Puerto Rican natives have only run the boat non-stop a few days since taking delivery in Florida a year ago. They’ve been as far as Puerto Rico, and up and down the U.S. east coast. While at anchor, Crissy works on her swimming and runs when the couple are able to go to shore.

This year Crissy enters a new age group and is a favorite to win any of the races she competes in. But she’s mentally ready to give it up. “I’ve checked that box,” she says, adding that it depends on husband Jose’s schedule. The couple have big time cruising plans that include heading west to Alaska, coming back around and exploring South America and Patagonia. But Jose’s demanding job keeps them – for now – tied to their home base in Annapolis. Capturing the Ironman title in the 60-64 age group “is something to achieve, as long as Joe is still working and I have time on my hands,” she says. “But I’m ready to stop when he’s ready to cruise.”

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