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15 March 2006, 11:39 am
POORTMAN To Miss Leg Five
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Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006

ABN AMRO TWO bowman Gerd Jan POORTMAN (NED), who missed the last leg through injury, will not sail on in the Volvo Ocean Race leg five to Baltimore, USA after doctors discovered his back problems, incurred when a wave swept him along the deck and he fetched up on the leading edge of a daggerboard, are more severe than first thought.
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POORTMAN was washed onto a daggerboard on the leg three crossing from Melbourne, Australia to Wellington, New Zealand and fractured his coccyx, but while it was initially thought he would only miss the trip to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil a recent visit to hospital in the Netherlands revealed he also cracked a vertebrae further up his spine, ruling him out of leg five.

The Dutchman will now have further tests in the Netherlands when the boats head off to sea again, but he expects to be back onboard by the Baltimore In Port race.

'When we left Melbourne we thought it was just going to be the tailbone and I'd be out for one leg,' POORTMAN, 28, said. 'But we went back to Holland to a sport doctor's and they found out there's a tiny corner cracked off my vertebrae.

'It's not a major other than it needs to heal. You don't want to go to sea with a broken back. You have to think about your future. Normally it takes six weeks to heal, but because of everything we have to do I'd need ten.'

BRUN To Continue

POORTMAN is now likely to be replaced by Lucas BRUN (BRA), the 22 year old Brazilian sailor who took his place when the injury was first diagnosed in New Zealand, but he expects to be declared fit for the Baltimore In Port race and leg six.

He is now back at work tuning the yacht's rigging, and while frustrated that he cannot take part in the immediate future, he is relieved the injury is not as bad as it might have been.

'It's pretty frustrating, especially when you are here, but there's nothing I can do about it,' the former Admiral's Cup winner said. 'My attitude is I'm lucky to be here walking around because if I'd fallen the wrong way I could have been paralysed and in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.

'For the rest of my life I will be disappointed that I missed the legs, but there's not a lot I can do about it.

'Those boats are tough enough as it is, you don't want to be sailing with a broken back.'

Overall Leaderboard
(Up to and including Leg Four - not yet ratified)
Pos Team Nation Skipper Pts
3 Pirates of the Caribbean USA Paul CAYARD (USA) 30.5
4 movistar ESP Bouwe BEKKING (NED) 28
5 Brasil 1 BRA Torben GRAEL (BRA) 26.5
6 Ericsson Racing Team SWE Neal MCDONALD (GBR) 21
7 ING Real Estate Brunel AUS Grant WHARINGTON (AUS) 11.5

For a complete list of all the news about the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-2006 CLICK HERE.

Volvo Ocean Race (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Gerd Jan POORTMAN will miss leg five to Balitmore:© Simon FISHER
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