During our IC Nationals I mentioned to several friends that the following weekend in September I would be doing the Solution Nationals at Carsington (for the record I finished 6th for the second year running and first Master (over 55) on both occasions.) The Solution is a 2005 designed boat by Kevin Clark (he came third this year), built by Ovingtons as a mini-version of the Phantom suitable for those with a body weight of 65 to 85 Kg. I call it a 'Solo with street cred'. I bought one last year as I wanted to try sailing in a boat with much lighter sheet loads than the IC or the Moth in which I was getting increasing pain from osteoarthritis in my fingers. The Solution main sheet is led from the end of the boom to a strop over the transom, hence you pull in loads of rope but with a lot less effort than with centre sheeting. The boat is slightly faster than a Laser on the water so I get competition at Drycote in handicap races and there is one other Solution sailor in the club who is rapidly improving.
Then by chance I made a discovery that had it occurred three months earlier I might no longer have had the incentive to try a Solution. In the junk mail I received the literature on a product from Holland called 'Flexagene'. The sellers claimed to have sourced two natural herbs 'Uncaria guianensis' and 'Lepidium Meyenii' that bring fast, lasting relief for the aches and pains of osteoarthritis. With a money back free trial and some 'research' on the web suggesting it was not dangerous, I gave it a go to find it half worked. My finger joints are as stiff and swollen as ever, but now I am almost completely pain free even after several days of Canoe sailing. (Following a finger ex-ray about 18 months ago the diagnosis came back 'severe osteoarthritis'.) When I recounted this tale to several friends at the Nationals two or three people asked me for the name of the product and where I get it from, at about £10 for a month's supply. I promised to send them the details when I got home, by which time I had forgotten who it was I had promised to e-mail(!), hence this 'public' post to all in the fleet! ( I am volunteering to chair the dementia group with our next meeting due last Saturday.)
Flexagene comes from the Regen Centre in Holland and can be ordered by phoning 0800 917 5952. My sister has similar problems and it has also helped her a bit, though it is not a miracle cure. But now for a word of caution, by coincidence, the guy who won the Solution Nationals this year, Andy McKee, who I met for the first time last Saturday, is a consultant hand surgeon. We got talking about finger joints and he told me how medics are just starting to experiment with replacement finger joints the same as with hips and knees, but the operation at present is largely carried out for pain relief and would be pointless in my case if I was going to go on stressing my finger joints by sailing! (I could become a patient of his were I to take up flower arranging rather than sailing! No way!). When I told Andy about Flexagene he agreed in a jocular way I should keep taking the pills but commented the pain relief could be a coincidence as sometimes osteoarthritic finger joints spontaneously give less pain once they have stiffened up. Of course conventional medicine knows nothing much about herbal remedies and as the drug companies cannot patent them, no double-blind trials are done scientifically to test if the herb really works. However, empirically 'Flexagene' seems to have given me over a year of almost pain-free IC and Moth sailing, when before I was really worried that I might have to give up (or only sail a Solution) as the pain was spoiling the enjoyment of my sport. So try it yourself at your own risk if you want! I still have only a two finger grip with my left hand when pulling on something as narrow as a rope (more a limitation in the foiling Moth where you need to hold sheet and twist the tiller extension at the same time to adjust ride height) but unlike a year ago, I am almost pain free when sailing and afterwards. Oh the problems of getting old!
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