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From hospital bed to hostile competitor

Published on January 13th, 2015

In the weeks leading up to the McDougall + McConaghy 2015 Moth Worlds, British sailor Chris Rashley was determined to better his second overall at the 2014 Moth Worlds. Rashley arrived in Sorrento well before the event to practice, but not long into his stay the Englishman suffered a disc protrusion.

“I collapsed in the street in Sorrento. I could not get up. I was taken to hospital and two days later I was having an MRI. It was a disc protrusion,” Rashley says matter-of-factly, explaining the disc had pulled out from the jelly and straight into his back nerves.

“The body self-protects, it is trying to look after your spinal cord, so the muscles contract to protect it and you can’t move. That’s what the MRI discovered and I was given anti-inflammatories because the area was so swollen.”

After self-protecting, Rashley says his body then started to self-damage. After five days he started physio, a course of steroids and an Epidural, where painkilling drugs are passed into the small of the back via a fine tube. The drug is injected around the nerves that carry signals from the part of your body that feels pain.

Two to three days later, and feeling no pain, Rashley was able to take short walks. “On the third day I went for a little sail,” he said.

Is it painful? “No, the Epidural took care of that. I can’t solve the disc problem right now; that will take three to six months. Is it bad for your back to go sailing? “No,” he says.

“If you walk the beach at these Worlds, you will find lots of guys who have had this problem and some who have it now; it comes from hiking and not being strong in your core. It’s not like I’m the only one,” Rashley explains.

After spending time in hospital, Rashley was out in time to race on the first day of competition. “I have raced every race. It’s a real pleasure to be on the water again; to be in hospital for 10 days is no fun.”

His hopes for these Worlds? “If I can even complete all races it will be a great event for me. To come all this way and not compete would have been terrible, so I feel quite lucky,” the sailor from Southampton says.

With racing in the Worlds on Jan. 10-16, Rashley won the practice race and is currently in fourth place overall … a bit better than just showing up.

Report by Di Pearson, McDougall + McConaghy Moth Worlds Media.

Official websiteComplete results

Interview with Chris at 1:06 minutes

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