Man raising money for sailors of all abilities stops in Port Lincoln

COMPANION: Willi Fantom on board the SV Skeese with his first mate, Captain Mischief during his stay in Port Lincoln. Photo: Jarrad Delaney
COMPANION: Willi Fantom on board the SV Skeese with his first mate, Captain Mischief during his stay in Port Lincoln. Photo: Jarrad Delaney

For sailor Willi Fantom the sea has provided a refuge and a purpose as he is six months into a journey that will take him around Australia, raising money and awareness for sailing programs for people with a disability.

Mr Fantom, 49, has lived with agoraphobia and anxiety which had provided challenges in his everyday life, and after some soul searching discovered a love for sailing, buying his first boat three years ago.

Now he is on a 10-year journey that will take him around Australia and even around the world, sailing with no-one but his loyal canine companion, Captain Mischief.

Mr Fantom said he faced difficulties with his agoraphobia and anxiety, but the boat provided a haven and had taught him to be self reliant.

"I feel safe, it feels like a security bubble," he said.

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His self reliance has lured him into solo sailing and he is now circumnavigating Australia in his yacht "SV Skeese' in a fundraiser called 'Solo Sailor for the Disabled'.

The fundraiser is supported by the Australian Sports Foundation and Disability Sports Australia, raising funds to go towards clubs, individuals and organisations like Sailability to promote the development and awareness of sailing programs for people with a disability.

Mr Fantom is aiming to raise $2 for every nautical kilometre in his first year around Australia's 59,736km coastline.

Starting at Newcastle on New Years Eve Mr Fantom and Captain Mischief made their way down the east coast, circumnavigating Tasmania and making their way to Robe and then Adelaide before arriving in Port Lincoln Monday night.

Mr Fantom said he had a good path between Adelaide and Port Lincoln.

"I had an easy window coming through the Investigator Strait, mostly had west to northwesterly winds which made for an interesting sail...a clear few nights and I was able to see quite well," he said.

Mr Fantom said his journey was self funded and he hoped people would give to a great cause so others living with a disability could experience the joy of sailing like he had.

"When you see a child who's got cerebral palsy getting on a dock, ready to go on a boat to sail, you can't put a price on that," he said.

"It opens the door through organisations like Disability Sports Australia and Sailability to give people a chance to access something they wouldn't have been able to do several years ago."

Mr Fantom said he was supported by ClientSAT, Zulu Waterways with its mobile app and website, Iridium GO with a satellite phone and tracking page and Watermakers with a device turning salt water into fresh water.

Aiming to depart on Friday or Saturday, Mr Fantom and Captain Mischief will make their way to Ceduna and into Western Australia, looking to stop around Albany and Perth before making their way up the west coast.

Mr Fantom will also go on a global journey, preparing to enter the Global Solo Challenge in 2023, and will have Captain Mischief by his side.

He said he was looking forward to his future in his boat and looked forward to returning to Port Lincoln in the future.

"I love where this boat has taken me and look forward to where it will take me," he said.

People can donate by visiting asf.org.au/projects/disability-sports-australia/solo-sailer-for-the-disabled/, can follow his journey by going to www.clientsat.com.au/sv-skeese/ and can learn more by visiting the Solo Sailor For The Disabled Facebook page.

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