Skipper gets a leg up

Graeme Martin gets ready to trade in his old artificial leg aboard his yacht Sand Crab’s Disco . Picture: Marcus Whisson d400380
Graeme Martin gets ready to trade in his old artificial leg aboard his yacht Sand Crab’s Disco . Picture: Marcus Whisson d400380

‘It’ll be waterproof, but once you get on a boat it’s up to you and the fact you are disabled doesn’t matter,’ Mr Martin said.

The Royal Perth Yacht Club member and former fire fighter lost his left leg and had his right ankle crushed when a wall collapsed on him in 1995.

‘I was in excruciating pain and I promised myself if I got out of this alive I would buy a yacht and sail to Bali,’ he said.

After recovering in Royal Perth Hospital he bought the 40ft Sand Crab’s Disco and cruised to the Northern Territory, including solo from Darwin to Gove, before winning a gold medal in the three-crew Sonar class at the 2000 Sydney Paralympics and bronze at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

His goal in the Fremantle-Bali race is to push the yacht and its able-bodied crew in the 22-boat rally division to finish the 1440 nautical mile course in nine to 10 days.

When he returns, Mr Martin wants to introduce sailing to returned|||soldiers from the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts to mirror similar Israeli, US and UK armed forces’ programs for their physically and mentally damaged soldiers, airmen and sailors.

This year’s Fremantle-Bail race features an 11-boat racing division that includes the 27m super maxi Super Sled, Rolly Tasker Perie Banou skippered by triple circumnavigator Jon Sanders, and the carbon fibre 11.3m General Lee that race organisers tipped as the most competitive entry if the wind picks up.

Visit fremantlebali.com or go to|sailabilitywa.com.au for race progress.