AFTER the end of the 2008 Qualifiers I felt it was really important to have a holiday.

Taking breaks is vital to recover both mentally and physically. Often I have not realised just how desperately I needed to relax and unwind until I actually did!

I went to Dahab (Egypt) with club Vass on a windsurfing holiday and it was simply awesome. Although I had a week off pilates and gym work it was still a physical week… it felt like my arms were going to fall off until the last few days when I finally got into my harness. I also rode a camel (which is a once in a life time experience if you get my meaning) and scuba dived in the Red Sea.

The last event of the season was the Radial Inlands at Carsington Sailing Club and I could not have asked for a better end of the year. Having won every race in cold and windy conditions I now really feel I deserve my break over the winter. This meant in 2008 I did the treble, winning the Nationals, Qualifier series and the Inlands. I am absolutely chuffed to bits because this time last year the heaviest thing I was allowed to lift was a spoon with food on it (I had to ask my Mum to put my laptop on my lap for me and take it off when I needed to go to the loo!)

I am now full of enthusiasm to get up to top fitness, improving my core before I return to sailing. I am now being very careful, avoiding any movements which aggravate my spine (Unfortunately it appears now I am getting stronger, dead lifting also causes an increase in symptoms.) I need to train differently to how I did before my surgery but I am confident I can reach my goals and after all I had a very good season this year, so imagine how good 2009 can be when I am fully fit.

This week I finally got signed off from hospital where my physio Toby has been invaluable with help and advice (as well as sticking needles in me to get my silly muscles to relax). I have been travelling to the Princess Royal for a year now following my operation and it will be strange no longer going there.

However I still have great support in Weymouth at the Nielson clinic where I shall be going twice a week. Whilst I am fundamentally ok (as my sailing results prove this year) I still have some symptoms of nerve damage which I am doing my best to keep on top of. The left side of my body (back, arm, neck and shoulder) tends to tighten up, so needs regular soft tissue massage.The most bizarrefeeling is the “electrical” sensations I get in my left tricep. Fortunately these can be massaged out which makes my hand feel like it is holding a coke can attached to a car battery (it feels VERY electrical). I can not really explain just how unpleasant this is!

My main consideration while I am getting my body in order (I am on the way up but I still have a little way to go) is my options for the 2012 Olympic campaign. ISAF decision regards the Olympic classes is not until 12th December so I have at least a month off serious sailing to concentrate on my fitness and have a good think. It will then be important decision time!