THEY count themselves lucky to have survived the horrors of modern warfare.

Despite losing limbs and suffering nightmare injuries, a band of servicemen and women will test themselves to the limit this weekend as they look for yacht racing glory in the start of Cowes Week.

Joining the Toe In the Water (TITW) charity for the world’s largest sailing regatta, the disabled crews are unnoticed among their able bodied team and competitors as they take to the waves of the Solent in the charity’s uniform of bright blue gillets and jackets.

Daily Echo: Cowes Week 2010 news

Set up to help encourage injured servicemen and women to make the most of their lives most of the team are taking to the water for the first time with little or no sailing history.

The charity looks to help them be part of a uniformed team but also provides them with physical rehabilitation and to help overcome their injuries. It pushes them to forget any handicaps and fight on for victory in a tough competition.

An aim that has not only changed the lives of dozens of participants in the two years since it was launched, but has resulted in a sailing team that constantly finishes in the top five.

Standing next to one of the charity’s two 8m J-80 racing boats, Chris Herbert, 22, has been a part of TITW since it began after losing his left leg in a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq in 2007.

“It turned my life around and gave me the kick up the backside I needed,” he said.

“I always wanted to be an action man so what happened was really tough. But after taking part I realised I could do something exciting with my life despite losing my leg.”

Chris has now gained four A-levels and is preparing to study medicine at the University of Southampton.

Director of the charity Royal Engineers Warrant Officer Lloyd Hamilton, from Hamble said their mission is to “re-inspire, re-engage and re-integrate” injured military personnel through the strong competitive nature of sailing.

“We have seen some real transformations of people who thought they were no good to anyone and their families are better off without them only to come |here and completely turn- around.

“Sailing is a great activity and people come here after being recommended by physios and doctors. It not only helps with their physical rehabiliation but also their psychological.

“By being part of a team and testing themselves in a competition against teams who spend years sailing together, and then to beat them, has huge benefits to their recovery,” he added.