Entry to the Southern Ocean hangs in the balance as Dee fights knee injury

Dee Caffari was close to tears yesterday as she confronted the possibility that her race could be brought to a halt by a knee infection. Caffari has been suffering bursitis after a week’s heavy upwind conditions in the South Atlantic.

Fears that this masks an infection have prompted her medical advisers to put her on heavy doses of antibiotics in the hope of curing the problem before she enters Southern Ocean in a few days’ time.

“It’s the type of thing that blood poisoning comes from and I’ve basically got four days and if it doesn’t get better it’s game over,” said an emotional Caffari yesterday. “If it’s blood poisoning I can’t go on because if it spreads it’s a massive risk.”

“You are constantly on your knees and bashing yourself,” she added. “For the first couple of weeks I wore knee pads, because I knew that I’m quite sensitive. Recently, I’ve taken them off and this week I must have hit my knee.”

Knee infections can quickly worsen, a possibility that is foremost in the mind of Caffari’s medical adviser, Dr Spike Briggs. Last month, he was involved in the evacuation of Tony Mutter from Volvo Ocean Race yacht Ericsson 4 after Mutter developed a similar condition. “You can’t go into the Southern Ocean unless you’re in reasonable shape,” Dr Briggs has warned.

“Over the next three or four days we’ll be reviewing the situation. We will make a cautious decision but basically it is judged by having to bail out to Cape Town.

“We’ll see how things go. It really is a question of waiting and seeing and just taking it 12 hours at a time at the moment.”

Commenting on the situation, Andrew Roberts, Aviva’s campaign director, said: “Dee has all the medication on board that she needs at present and Dr Briggs and his team have a lot of experience with treating these problems. Hopefully her knee will mend quickly in the kinder conditions she has now.”

Listen to Dee describing her problem by clicking below