Keeping them fit

Crews setting off on leg four of the Volvo Ocean Race will be better prepared for medical emergencies
Right: Volvo Ocean Race physio Timo Malinen works his magic on News Corp navigator Ross Field When the Volvo Ocean racers head out into the unpredictable Southern Ocean on leg 4 next Sunday, they'll be carrying an extra cargo of confidence to cope with any medical problems. Crew members have asked to spend one of their last days in Auckland undergoing specialised medical training, which will be delivered by New Zealand's leading marine medical company, ProAction Medical. On-board medics will focus on practising techniques they can use at sea to deal with dehydration, traumatic injuries and other medical problems. "It's all about confidence. The more prepared the medics are, the better they can deal with any medical issues in the early stages so nothing progresses to a dangerous state," explained Tony Nicholson, Managing Director of ProAction Medical, an Auckland Viaduct-based company which has trained thousands of sailors. Special training techniques and hands-on practise sessions on shore have been designed to replicate the difficult conditions the Volvo Ocean Race medics are likely to encounter on the open ocean: poor lighting, deafening wind noise, constant movement. The medics' function on board the eight competing V.O.60 yachts is considered vital for the health, safety and competitiveness of the crew, as well as playing a crucial role in keeping a boat from retiring from the race for medical reasons. Good medical training of medics will help a team to be more confident, safer and more competitive. The goal is to keep an emergency or health issue from becoming a crisis or forcing a retirement. "The Volvo Ocean Race is the best-organised race anywhere in the world when it comes to the medical set-up," said Timo Malinen, the event's medical coordinator, chiropractor and physiotherapist. Although major injuries or illnesses are rare, some crewmembers have faced problems caused by dehydration,