Kevin Le Poidevin sets off for his GSC on his Open 40 Roaring Forty to combine sports and solidarity

©Philipp Hympendahl

Yesterday, November 23rd at approximately 13:30 local time (12:30 UTC), Kevin Le Poidevin set off in north easterly winds of around 10 knots and a weak late autumn sunshine, from A Coruña aboard his Open 40’ Roaring Forty. Various unforeseen events, including a back injury and last-minute technical issues, forced him to postpone his departure for the Global Solo Challenge, initially planned for October 28th. However, the Australian sailor, born in 1961, did not lose his motivation and continued with determination to pursue his dream of completing a solo circumnavigation of the globe. Accompanying him in these last days was German skipper Philipp Hympendal, who aspires to join the GSC 2027-’28. Hympendal bid him farewell on the dock of Marina Coruna and took some beautiful photos of Roaring Forty in the bay.

Le Poidevin dedicated thirty-one years to service in the Royal Australian Air Force and, once retired, chose to dedicate himself to his sea adventures. “The need to be close to the sea is in my DNA. I believe that military life and navigation are complementary. Both require discipline, patience, mental agility, and endurance. Moreover, maintaining good physical fitness, motivation, and applying critical thinking to analyze and evaluate one’s own abilities and those of others is essential.”

©Philipp Hympendahl

 

The Australian skipper chose to face this significant challenge aboard an Open 40′, a predecessor of the Box Rule of Class40, christened Roaring Forty. This vessel, known for its excellent performance and reliability, was designed by Adrian Konynendyk of Lutra Yacht Design and built in Estonia by Akton Yachts.

His motivation is undoubtedly the desire to test himself in an adventurous environment where his actions have limited influence. In an interview, he expressed his affinity with the words of the English explorer Ernest Shackleton, who stated, “I believe it’s in our nature to explore, to reach the unknown. The only real failure would be not to explore at all.” Among the various challenges Kevin had to face in his project, one of the most demanding was certainly managing his campaign from a great distance from his country, coordinating the refitting work of the vessel between the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

©Philipp Hympendahl

 

With Kevin Le Poidevin’s departure, the number of skippers at sea in the GSC rises to fifteen. Andrea Mura, aboard Vento di Sardegna, left the Galician port last Saturday and is sailing in the trades through the Canary Islands. Alessandro Tosetti on Aspra has crossed the equator. Cole Brauer is chasing Ari Känsäkoski and Pavlin Nadvorni, who are through the transition zone between the trade winds and the Southern Oceans. Louis Robein faced strong winds associated with a deep low pressure but is now sailing in light winds and trying to move south to find following winds. On the evening of November 23, Edouard De Keyser safely reached Cape Town where he needs to address some technical issues with watermaker and autopilot to be able carry on safely in the GSC. Holding first place in the virtual ranking, Philippe Delamare is sailing in the Indian Ocean aware of the need of preserving his boat in the South and is about to face another deep low. Leading the fleet on the water and second in the expected time of arrival is Dafydd Hughes, who ticked off another milestone on November 22 at 14:50 UTC, as he crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin, the second of the three great capes before the legendary Cape Horn.

For Le Poidevin, the GSC is not just a personal challenge. He has decided to dedicate this sporting endeavor to two causes close to his heart: Soldier On, an organization committed to supporting sick or injured military personnel in their reintegration into civilian life, and Brain Tumour Alliance Australia (BTAA), which helps patients with brain tumors and their families. “I dedicate my GSC to the memory of Nathan ‘Bullet’ Draper, a dear friend who lost his battle with brain cancer.”

Kevin Le Poidevin and Nathan ‘Bullet’ Draper ©kevinlepoidevin

 

Catherine Hindson, the Vice President of Brain Tumor Alliance Australia, wanted to thank Kevin for his commitment

“Nathan Draper left an indelible mark on all of us with his energy and pragmatism. He always attended our monthly support meetings. We are deeply grateful for your support, Kevin, which significantly contributes to raising awareness of our mission to assist anyone affected by a brain tumor, offering care, support, and guidance in the most difficult times. Ours is a volunteer-based organization fueled by donations, and initiatives like yours are crucial for us. We currently do not receive government support, but we hope the situation can evolve in the future. Nathan would certainly be proud and grateful for your commitment, and the BTAA logo on your sails is a wonderful tribute.”

 

A letter from the Honorable Margaret Beazley AC KC, Governor of New South Wales in Australia, was sent to Le Poidevin, expressing her country’s support and closeness to the Australian navigator: 

“I send you my best wishes for your participation in the Global Solo Challenge, representing Australia, New South Wales, and Port Stephens aboard Roaring Forty. When you receive this letter, you will already be on your way around the world, on a long journey that could last more than 150 days, through the great capes. On behalf of myself and all the citizens of New South Wales, I wish you the best for this exciting and challenging journey.”

Kevin and his wife, Narelle Le Poidevin ©kevinlepoidevin

 

The family and friends of Le Poidevin, who could only support him from a distance during his extensive preparation for the GSC, wanted to express their closeness to Kevin with beautiful messages of good luck, collected for him by the organization. The GSC shows how geographical distances can become less significant. It is incredible, but feasible, for a navigator living on the other side of the world to find themselves on the starting line of an event that represents the realization of a dream.

 

From Narelle (also known as Relle) Le Poidevin, Kevin’s Wife

“I am not new to wishing Kev well on his travels and adventures. During our 40-plus years being together, we have said a multitude of goodbyes, beginning at train stations as he lived in country NSW and I by the coast. We made our long-distance relationship work. Our years as an Australian Defence Force family were dotted with our travel throughout Australia, and Kevin went overseas for work, representing Airforce for sport and heartbreaking tearful goodbyes as our girls and I watched him head deployed to war. Kev has an amazing dream he is eager to fulfil. He has his family behind him 100%. We will all be watching our screens as he sets off to achieve it.

Love always Relle.”

Kevin with his mom and dad, Vale and Eddie Le Poidevin ©kevinlepoidevin

 

From Kevin’s mom and dad, Vale and Eddie Le Poidevin

“Kev, you were almost 2 and a half when we sailed from England to Australia on the Flavia with more than your share of seasickness. As the years passed you always wanted a boat. Dad made one with wood and the inner tubes of tractor tyres. Later came a tinny with a motor. We only had rivers, lakes and dams near us. When it was time to come in you always wanted to go “,just around the next bend”.  You always wanted a bigger boat but we said you’ll have to buy that yourself. Many years later and married to Relle, that day came with ‘Just Jo’ then ‘Rogue Wave’, and now ‘Roaring Forty’ with the world ahead of you. 

You will weather the ups and downs as you have throughout your life. With your training as a mechanic and the many skills in so many areas you achieved during your Service to your Country in the Royal Australian Air Force, we feel confident that you have prepared Roaring Forty and yourself for this Global Solo Challenge. You are now ready to start living your Retirement dream.

Good Luck Kev, may the winds be in your favour.  Safe Sailing, with the love of your Mum, Dad and Family.”

 

From his friend and fellow sailor Neil Pilz

“I’ve known Kev for a number of years now through both work and sailing. I had the privilege of crewing on his yacht, Rogue Wave, in the 2019 Sydney to Hobart. I developed a deep respect for his seamanship and even more so for his preparedness, inner strength, mental toughness and determination to overcome any obstacle he encounters. I would sail with him again anytime,