America’s Cup: Team Shosholoza’s Charles Nankin back on board
Team Shosholoza: © AGC BYM News
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Wednesday, 15 November 2006
Janine Geigele:

After 100 days Charles Nankin is back on board RSA 83. For the first time since his serious sailing accident the mastman of South Africa's first America's Cup Challenger sailed as 18th man. For the 28 year-old it was a very special moment.

"I was excited to say the least and watching the action from the stern was different and interesting", said Nankin following his first sail. As 18th man his only task was to watch, study and enjoy. "It's too early to return to my position as mastman but in January when the team is back from the Christmas break I'll be ready for the challenge", was his comment.

His team-mates were surprised to see Charles back on deck so soon. The current backup mastman, Grinder Shaun Pammenter, commented: "We're all convinced that he'll be back in his regular position very soon!" And Boat Captain Tim Kröger: "A speedy return to the boat is good after such a serious accident, we're all happy and relieved."

Early August the professional sailor sustained serious injuries during the German Sailing Grand Prix in Kiel. He was on deck pulling in the spinnaker whilst rounding a leeward mark when the foresail hit him unexpectedly as it came across the bow, flinging him overboard. With the boat turning he was dragged underwater, the rudder struck his back trapping him underwater for 24 seconds.

Nankin was diagnosed with a full vertebral fracture and one day after the accident he underwent a three-hour operation at a specialist hospital affiliated to the University of Schleswig-Holstein during which a titanium plate was inserted to stabilise the thoracolumbar region. Two weeks later he was flown back to Valencia where the Capetonian spent a few days in a rehabilitation clinic prior to returning to his Valencian home on August 30.

Within the first few weeks Nankin shed 14 kilos and stayed at home before starting with light exercises in a pool to build up muscle tone in the back and facilitate the healing process. On return to the Shosholoza Base Nankin continued to work with physiotherapist Michal Hadala and biokineticist Julian Calefato. "Following on from our rehab work in weightless conditions in the pool to develop both strength and flexibility we started with the core-stability, a complex of abdomen, back and hip muscles rehabilitation that plays an important role, especially in the case of spinal injury", said Hadala.

After a while they started to include more dynamic exercises for vertical stability. Just a few weeks ago Hadala said: "Charles could be back on board a lot sooner than we thought but mental preparation is just as important."

That's why today was a big psychological moment for Nankin. "Now I'm happy and confident that I'm on the right track and will be back with the team early next year. During our Christmas break in Cape Town I'll be replicating sailing situations through sport-specific fitness training at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa."
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 15 November 2006 )
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