Patience is the key to Spithill’s recovery
By Colin Thompson
Jimmy Spithill, helmsman of America’s Cup defender Oracle Team USA, is in a race against the clock to regain fitness in time for the start of the America’s Cup World Series in June.
The multiple America’s Cup winner, 2014 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and past King Edward VII Gold Cup champion underwent elbow surgery in Los Angeles last month. It remains to be seen whether he will make a full recovery to helm Oracle’s foiling AC45 catamaran in the America’s Cup World Series opener in Sardinia, Italy.
“I had the surgery three weeks ago in Los Angeles and the procedure went well,” Spithill said.
“It was quite a traumatic surgery for the elbow. It’s not keyhole surgery, there’s quite a big gash, so the healing process just takes time.”
Spithill, who is also a past match race world champion, has since returned to his native Australia for physiotherapy.
“We found a very good physiotherapist in Australia, so I decided to come down here to do the rehab so I can be ready for sailing in Bermuda by May 1,” he said.
“At the moment I’m hoping to come to Bermuda with my family in the middle of April as long as that works with my physio’s plan. It depends a bit on the progress I make with the physio over the next few weeks.”
Spithill, whose sole victory in the Gold Cup came in 2005, is encouraged by the recovery he has made so far.
“I’m into the third week now and we’re trying to get full mobility back into the elbow,” he said. “Until now, I’ve been doing nothing, trying to let the healing happen but now we’re starting to work on mobility and I think the next step will be some light resistance work.
“It can take up to about thirteen weeks to fix something like this, but already I’m doing pretty well and the physio has been fantastic and pushing me really hard.
“As an athlete, we’re trained to push through and work harder whenever you have a weakness. Ironically, however, it’s the opposite with this. If you push too hard or shortcut it, you just add more weeks to the recovery. I’m used to working hard to fix something, but the fact is, the healing time is the healing time and there’s no escaping it.”
The first America’s Cup World Series event will be held in Sardinia from June 5 to 7.
Bermuda will host the event — involving all of the America’s Cup racing syndicates — from October 16 to 18.
All racing will be held in the wing sail AC45 catamaran which has been modified to foil like the larger AC72 and AC62.
At the previous America’s Cup in San Francisco, Spithill led Oracle to one of the greatest comebacks in sport to retain the prestigious “Auld Mug” — the oldest trophy in international sport.
Oracle will defend their title in Bermuda in June 2017.
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