Top Shosholoza grinder Shaun Pammenter benched after suffering a serious back injury 26/6/06

 Top Shosholoza grinder Shaun Pammenter – a former Kwa-Zulu Natal-B rugby player – has been benched after suffering a serious back injury during sail training two weeks ago.

Pammenter won’t be onboard for the Louis Vuitton Act 12 match racing event currently being contested in the Mediterranean off Valencia, Spain, and is likely to be off for the next six weeks.

Pammenter, who gave up his rugby career to join Shosholoza at the end of 2004 described his accident as more painful than his worst rugby tackle. “I was hit in the back by the jockey pole, with a force that not only knocked me flat, but shot me down the open hatch on the boat. The clip that was holding the sail in place shot open and the pole broke one of my lower vertebrae. At first, while the surrounding muscles were still warm and the adrenalin from the accident and tension of the practice race was still high, I was still able to continue with my duties. But, as we rounded the next buoy, the pain set in and I was eventually lying flat on the boat, unable to move,” said Pammenter.

“The prognosis is rest for about six weeks. I watch the boat leaving the shore every day and it’s really difficult to accept that I won’t be with the guys on the start line. My focus now is rehabilitation so I can be ready to resume my team position as soon as possible,” Pammenter continued. Julian Calefato, a bio-kineticist with the Sports Science Institute in Cape Town who travels with Team Shosholoza, is overseeing Pammenter’s recovery through physiotherapy and a strength-building programme in the in-house gym at the team’s base.

Mark Sadler – skipper said: “It’s a big loss for us. Shaun’s one of our most powerful grinders and America’s Cup class yachts need an enormous amount of power to optimize their performance so are feeling his absence. Being a small team it also puts us short on reserves.”