Paul Brotherton - back in the boat

 
Having not sailed since 8 July when I strained the MCL (medial collateral ligament) on my left knee, and simultaneously tore the medial meniscus when competing at the 49er Europeans in Poland, Mark and I are delighted to now be back on the water again, and were back racing at the RYA National Ranker at Weymouth this weekend.
Getting back to sailing has seemed like the end of a long bumpy road, and the start of a new smooth freshly tarmacked one.  Being part of Skandia Team GBR is a massive privilege and since the moment I made the call to the team physio Chris “Flash” Gordon from the coach boat in Poland, I could not have had better support for my recovery.  
 
Post-surgery, see attached photo showing the removed meniscus, I was sent for a two week residential visit to the British Olympic Association IRU (Intensive Rehab Unit) at Bisham Abbey.  Across the board of Olympic sports, governing bodies can apply for their recovering athletes (I use that term very loosely) to attend the IRU and subject to space being available (a maximum of three athletes a week can be supported) are given the very best rehab training and exercise.  
 
Each day was made up of a morning and an afternoon session and each session was split into three blocks of physio, strength and conditioning and then sports massage.  Each session was one-on-one and the attention to detail was amazing, and it has to be said, sometimes very frustrating!  I feel a bit fat and useless at the best of times, but being there with Ricky Fifton, a 200 metre sprinter, added another good (or bad depending on your view!) comparison, as did having my poor movement control highlighted by the physio and/or strength and conditioning coach.
 
At the start of my stay the closest I could get my foot to my backside was 12cm from touching on my left as opposed to full flexion on the right side. Similarly, I could not perform a single leg squat on my operated side, and pretty much fell over as soon as I closed my eyes whilst standing on one leg – even on my so-called good leg!
My stay at Bisham involved many hours of being stood on balance balls and wobble boards, although it has to be said my favourite part was the human ten-pin bowling!  My physio was stood on one bosu – a large exercise ball cut in half and stuck onto a circular board – and I was on another and we took it in turns to throw a full-sized exercise ball at each other trying to knock each other off.  It was ace!  
 
At the end of my second week I was discharged with full flexion in both legs, and a big improvement in my core stability.  Still some way off athletic, but at least I was able to consider getting back in the boat again. And what a brilliant feeling that was when I did.  
 
The 49er has to be the most fun boat to sail and I am really lucky to sail with Mark who has a great sense of fun and enthusiasm and was no less eager than me to get back sailing our cool boat. For our first foray back on the water, we just kept it all as controllable as possible, flat water – no need for any trips round the bow with a triple salco a full pike and half twist at this stage – before turning our attention to racing again for the RYA National Ranker which was held this weekend.  
 
Conditions were pretty windy, at the top end for a 49er and they were the conditions that I was most anxious about having just returned to action.  But I’m pleased to say my knee didn’t play up and was just the slightest bit sore on Sunday which is a pretty good situation all things considered.
 
Results-wise Mark and I were third overall from this weekend, and just a point behind the winners Chris Draper and Peter Greenhalgh, so that was really encouraging given the break we’ve had.
 
Although these beauty desses wedding dresses are darker than the other, the application of red flower motifs on the skirt gives such a fabulous effect on this third dress. 
 
To me it’s really great to see that the processes and systems we were working on as our build up to Sail for Gold prior to my injury are all still there and are very strong which stands us in great stead looking ahead to next year.
During the autumn we’ll be throwing ourselves into our training at WPNSA, making use of the great facilities and support that Skandia Team GBR provides for us there, with the next event for us being the Miami World Cup series regatta in January.  
 
Competition in the GBR 49er squad is as strong as ever, so we’ll be looking for a podium finish in Miami to show that we’re still in the hunt.
 
Thanks must go to our main sponsor Link Oil and Gas Professionals for their continued support and commitment to our goal, and to Orange Mountain bikes, Steve Hopper of EITS, Ian Cleaver, the dedicated team at the IRU and to all the support staff within Skandia Team GBR for their continued help and support.
 
Paul
     
     
Posted: 09:04:42 - 13/10/2010

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