On Saturday 12th August 2000, Vinny Lauwers returned to Melbourne after seven months and two weeks at sea. It had taken seven years of preparation for Vinny to realise his incredible dream…to be the first disabled person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world.

Vinny Lauwers lost his ability to walk after his spinal cord was severed in a motorcycle accident when he was 22. Not expected to survive the accident, Vinny made a remarkable recovery. However, the accident had not just taken away his ability to walk but also his love for life. Slowly, Vinny deteriorated and soon he believed he was nothing and felt his life had no meaning.

One thing however still burned deep within Vinny, his love of the sea and his dream to one-day sail around the world. This dream was born as a 14-year-old boy when he sailed with a crew from Melbourne to Sydney.

It took Vinny Lauwers seven years to prepare. After repeated operations, immense physical and mental pain, and another broken back, Vinny’s dream began to take shape. In October 1999 an emotional farewell from fiancée Jacquie Gill and family together with hundreds of supporters including Victorian Premier Steve Bracks, Vinny set sail from Port Phillip Bay on his custom-made yacht, Vision Quest, to turn his dream into reality. Vision Quest itself had been specially built by Vinny to reduce the need for movement around the deck.

Vinny Lauwers’s dream was not just for himself, he also undertook this voyage to help enhance the quality of life for disabled and disadvantaged kids. Through his world voyage Vinny raised funds for Parasail, Caring For Kids, a non-profit organisation for disabled and disadvantaged children that he established in 1996.

Vinny Lauwers is a seasoned sailer having competed in two Sydney to Hobart yacht races as well as the 5,500 nautical mile Melbourne to Osaka Ocean Race. His sailing experience is over 100,000km.

In May 2001, Vinny Lauwers was recognised as International Disabled Sports Person of the Year at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco – other recipients on the night were International Sportsman, Tiger Woods and International Sportswoman, Cathy Freeman.

Vinny Lauwers continues to struggle with multiple injuries beyond his damaged spine, including chronic pain, sleep apnoea and brain damage.

Vinny Lauwers's story has already touched the hearts of many Australians and others around the world – his passion for life defied the odds of self-destruction from childhood psychological abuse to a horrific motorbike accident the doctors predicted he would not survive. Let Vinny Lauwers share his remarkable story with you.


Vinny Lauwers