Friday, July 8, 2011

Third day of FW Worlds

The third day of the FW world championships had rainy weather and even though the organizers and the competitors tried to get a race going, the wind didn't cooperate and it had to be called off. So instead of videos, I scoured the internet for some related stories and pictures. Here's the story of the aftermath of Casper Bouman's (NED-52) accident at the starting line during the first day as related by Sean O'brien (AUS-120)

A bit of back story… The startline is pretty short here and a lot of the guys are starting on port. After the first race, we’d worked out the port start was pretty favoured. Normally I’m not such a big fan of port starts; but I went for it. We were all coming in on port to the pin end with a big group of guys – Antoine, Micah, Dennis, Paulo, some Frenchies all together coming to the pin looking for gaps sailing at half speed. The signal went and I couldn’t find a space, then a couple of guys got through. I was in the back going halfwind towards the guys on starboard… still no space…

Then I rounded up to go upwind and a Filip Korczycki (POL-555) who didn’t have a good start was dogging and as he crossed in front of me I went over a wave and went upwind and he seemed to falter… I could see a collision was about to happen and I bore away a bit to try to avoid it. I went over this wave as I bore away and thinking I would clip his boom in my FACE I ducked under my front arm and the boom to shield my face from his boom and as this happened the backend of his boom sliced my forearm clean to the bone.

I think Filip had maybe modified the backend on his Gulftech boom? Which had razor sharp carbon edges protruding from the tailpiece where it had been modified. When you’re going upwind your front arm has a lot of tension as your squeezing the boom so the muscle just opened as it sliced. The impact wasn’t actually very hard at all because neither of us crashed. I basically just brushed the backend corner of the boom which made the cut.

As soon as I saw my arm sliced open to the bone I knew I had a big problem. With one arm I sailed to the beach instantly (trying to keep my cut arm out of the water). Luckily some guys on the beach saw the trouble and helped me with my gear as I couldn’t lift anything… I went back to the gear tent where the medical team were. As I crossed the street to walk to the tent everyone who passed me on the street had to look away! I couldn’t see the extent of the cut because it was on the outer side of my arm but that’s when I knew it must have been pretty bad!!!

The medical team at the tent came quickly with clear water to wash the wound and put big bandages around with people to hold it to keep the wound together; off to the hospital then!
Cecile (the wife of the organiser, Jose) decided the ambulance would take too long so she drove me to a nearby Medical Clinic – still in my boardshorts! It took an hour to get help waiting in the emergency room, I don’t think they realised how bad the cut was, which was a bit annoying. Luckily for me there was a very experienced doctor (maybe they are used to cuts like this here!) at the surgery to stitch me up.

40 stitches in total later; 10 stitches in 4 layers starting by repairing the muscle tear internally, 10 more in the fissure outside the muscle, then 10 inside the deep tissue skin and then another 10 on the top of skin outside. It took over an hour stitching me up! The doctor said I was lucky – if it got sliced even further, it would have gone through my nerves in my arm it could have meant I lost movement in my fingers. Talking to my doctor in Holland it looks like I will be out for 2 months minimum, and I may not have the same power again in this arm when I get back on the water again. I’m still keeping fingers (on my other hand) crossed that I can still compete in Latvia for the Europeans. I’ve never had a serious injury like this before from hitting somebody and maybe it’s a bit sad that it takes an accident like this to highlight the design of these square backend booms can be this sharp when we’re travelling at these speeds.”

On a separate subject that is unrelated to the above incident, check out this picture by Miguel Rodriguez (the real photographer and videographer for the event) on the first day of racing. I guess you shouldn't mess with BRA-999!

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