CAMPER bowman Mike Pammenter has been given the go ahead to re-join the race for the final leg to Galway and the two in-shore races and after six weeks on the sidelines with an injured back the South African can hardly wait.
Having suffered a prolapsed disc during leg six from Itajaí to Miami, Pammenter has been receiving intense treatment from team physio Paul Wilson.
"We were hoping it would take four weeks to get fixed but it didn't, it was a six week rest period," said Pammenter, who will reclaim his place from substitute Nick Burridge.
"Paul has done a terrific job. In some ways I am fitter than the other guys as I have being doing general strength and cardio work. I've been doing stuff they have been lacking, so in some respects I am better off than them."
The rehabilitation involved a combination of lower back manipulation and acupuncture followed by intense stretching and core work. The 28-year-old, who is competing in his second edition of the race, was happy to admit he's not been a very good patient.
"I'm very difficult to deal with at times," he said. "There was a lot of nerve damage in there which I have never dealt with before. I want to be back on the water as soon as I can.
"Paul knew back in Miami I would not be fit enough to sail the leg from Lisbon to Lorient but never told me. He did that to keep me sane really."
That frustration was compounded further as he watched the intense drama of the two legs unfold.
"It was hard as I missed two fantastic legs of sailing. You see photos and videos coming off the boats and you get really frustrated and angry that you are not there. It's actually quite difficult trying to watch the race. At one stage I actually turned the computer off and didn't look at it for a day. It was difficult."
Nevertheless, Pammenter was full of praise for supersub Burridge.
"Nick did a fantastic job and I know he really enjoyed the legs. He is a great sailor and the guys told me he did a great job. You could tell he was a very happy boy. It was really good for Nick and it was a great opportunity for him."
The challenge now for Pammenter and the rest of the sailors involved in this edition of the race is coming to terms with the fact the long regatta is coming to its conclusion.
"I've dedicated the last 18 months of my life to this race, then the day after the in-port race in Galway it is all over," he said. "I'll be technically unemployed. You have no purpose to wake up in the mornings."