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Air Force mates hope to soar to new heights in 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart

Air Force mates hope to soar to new heights in 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart

Air Force mates hope to soar to new heights in 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart

Kevin Le Poidevin’s Sigma 36 Rogue Wave was the 148th boat across the line in the 2019 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, but her arrival in Constitution Dock left an indelible mark on her owner.

Finishing at 1942hrs on New Year’s Eve, the crew was met by an incredible atmosphere on Constitution Dock.

“It was like a party for us,” Kevin recalls. “It was quite moving. Everyone still has time for you, even if you’re at the back of the fleet.

“We probably couldn’t time it that well again. It was perfect.”

As enjoyable as that experience was, Kevin doesn’t have any plans for a repeat in 2021.

Now entered in the Two-Handed Division, he and co-skipper Darrell Greig hope to “shave off half a day” from their 2019 time.

“We know we will always be at the back of the fleet, so we need to race the boat hard to stay competitive, but at the same time try not to break stuff,” Kevin says.

“Striking the balance between keeping the body fuelled and rested, to be competitive, are the key ingredients for success.”

Kevin and Darrell are both long-serving Air Force aviators and began sailing together after Kevin put out a call for crew at the RAAF base.

“There’s an underlying culture with RAAF crew,” he says. “You know they’re going to be safe, because you get that drummed into you in the RAAF.

“They’re generally organised and switched on – first aid training, safety training and all of that is taken as part of your job.

“I know when I get a ‘RAAFie’ on board, there is already a level of trust there.”

Rogue Wave has been the perfect vessel to fuel Kevin’s passion for shorthanded sailing.

After picking her up in Penang in 2009, he sailed back solo from Malaysia and has since taken on many solo adventures off the east coast of Australia, including two solo Trans-Tasmans.

The 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart features as part of Kevin’s ‘Aviator Ocean Racing’ campaign, which will see him take on shorthanded sailing events around the globe over the next five years.

He’s entered the 2023/24 Global Solo Challenge – a 26,000 nautical mile solo circumnavigation around the world – with his 40-foot carbon fibre racing yacht Roaring Forty.

“I hope to inspire and motivate others who are unable to pursue their own adventures because of their illness or injury,” Kevin says.

“Through these adventurous challenges, I hope that for a moment, patients, family and caregivers can escape their own challenges and join me vicariously, and without getting cold or their feet wet!”

Among those who will be following the Rogue Wave journey to Hobart is Nathan ‘Bullet’ Draper, an Air Force mate of Kevin and Darrell.

In 2019, Nathan was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive form of cancer, which begins in the brain.

The Rogue Wave campaign will support both Brain Tumour Alliance Australia (BTAA), on behalf of Nathan, and Soldier On, who Kevin has been supporting since his first Trans-Tasman in 2014.

“During his amazing journey through post-op recovery, I asked Bullet if he would like me to raise awareness and funds for his preferred charity through my sailing,” Kevin says.

“He told me of the great work by BTAA in not only supporting patients, but also the family, caregivers and loved ones. After looking through the BTAA website and the members’ personal stories, I knew this was an organisation that cares.”

You can support Rogue Wave’s charitable causes for the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart through Brain Tumour Alliance Australia or Soldier On.  

Entries for the 2021 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race are open until Friday 29 October 2021.

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A reminder that keel and rudder inspections are a requirement of entry. More information is available on the Australian Sailing website.

Please also ensure you complete all race documentation before the deadline.

Should competitors have any questions about keel and rudder inspections, or race documentation, please contact the CYCA Sailing Office via email at sailingoffice@cyca.com.au.