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Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race 2015

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Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race 2015

Sailors with disABILITIES embarks on its 22nd Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day. The crew of 16 on Kayle, skippered by John Whitfeld, trained throughout 2015  under John's skilful and encouraging guidance. According to the official race site, "the 628 nautical mile course is often described as the most gruelling long ocean race in the world, a challenge to everyone who takes part."

"John is a capable and successful Skipper with 21 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Races under his belt and I have full confidence in his abilities with our crew, a mix of disabled and able-bodied sailors, some experienced and some sailing the race for the first time,” said David Pescud, SWD Founder.

For the first time in 21 years David Pescud will not sail in the race. Instead, he will see the crew off on Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day when much of Australia will stop to watch the race.

Of his role as Skipper, John Whitfeld said:

"This is a greater level of responsibility because of what we’re trying to achieve, it’s a bigger responsibility and a bigger goal. If I was on a boat full of 'heavies', as we call a professional crew, and we get there, that’s standard, but if we get there it’s a goal we wouldn‘t achieve outside the SWD program and it’s a privilege to help our crew tick the box of finishing one of the toughest ocean races in the world.


As the first new Skipper in 21 years there’s a bit more pressure but I knew that when I signed up. Our goal is to get there—and the weather is going to make it a challenge—but I’m very determined to get there in a safe manner for the crew. If we get into the Derwent I’ll have a smile on my face you won’t be able to get rid of."

All but two of the crew sailed in the Landrover Sydney to Gold Coast Yacht Race earlier this year and two of the crew, Mark Thomson and Kristi Foster, also sailed in SWD's world record breaking event, Sydney to Sydney via Lord Howe Island in October. 

Our crew are a mix of people with disability and able-bodied crew members. Disabilities include MS, Friedreich's Ataxia, Arachnoiditis which is similar to MS but, instead of in the brain, it affects the spine, deafness, blindness, and an amputee. 

Track our Yacht's progress--Kayle, Sailors with disABILITIES- throughout the race, from start to finish.

Read about Kayle and our crew on the official Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race page.

Follow our updates by the hour and day on social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. Follow the official Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race twitter account. 

Meet our crew in the profiles below. Click the link beneath to watch their short videos.

Meet our crew

John Whitfeld

Nickname: Johnno

Lives: Sydney

Likes: Sailing

Joined SWD: 2011

Position on Yacht: Skipper

Age: 50

Meet John on video

Anne Lawrence

Nickname: Annie

Lives: North Ryde

Likes: gardening, looking after injured native birds

Joined SWD: 2005

Position on Yacht: navigator

Age: 51

Meet Anne on video

Paul Palmer

Nickname: Paulie (or teabag)

Lives: Hawkesbury

Likes: Watching live sport/concerts and now sailing

Joined SWD: April 2015

Position on Yacht: Traveler

Age: 51

Meet Paul on video

Ryan Honschooten

Ryan Honschooten

Nickname: Henshooter

Lives: Gosnells, Western Australia

Likes: Good food and wine, sailing, live music, inspiring other people

Joined SWD: 2015

Position on Yacht: To be confirmed

Age: 41

Meet Ryan on video

Ron Montague

Nickname: Ronnieboy

Lives: Enfield

Likes: sailing, community radio presenting and country music

Joined SWD: 2001

Position on Yacht: Mainsail trimmer

Age: 61

Meet Ron on video

Kristi Foster

Nickname: Krissie

Lives: Coffs Harbour

Likes: Reading, painting and craft

Joined SWD: 2014

Position on Yacht: Strings/Media

Age: 41

Meet Kristi on video

Greg Pugh

Nickname: Pughy

Lives: Stockton

Likes: beer and oysters

Joined SWD: 2014

Position on Yacht: Main trimmer

Age: 50 

Meet Greg on video

Mark Thomson

Nickname: Marky Mark

Lives: Central Coast

Likes: Staying fit

Joined SWD: 2001

Position on Yacht: Watch captain (bear is bosun)

Age: 47

Meet Mark on video

Mark Ralph

Nickname: Ralphie

Lives: Berala

Likes: woodwork & computer building

Joined SWD: 2004

Position on Yacht: Mast

Age: 60

Meet Mark on video


Paul Bulley

Nickname: Bulley

Lives: remote Australia

Likes: Teaching and looking for the strengths in all kids & being in the outdoors.

Joined SWD: 2015

Position on Yacht: Foredeck

Age: 33

Meet Paul Bulley on video

Keven Rainbow

Nickname: Keven

Lives: Hills District, Sydney

Likes: The native birds that visit our home

Joined SWD: 2013

Position on Yacht: Trimmer

Age: 64

Meet Keven on video

Julia Harrison

Nickname: Julia or Jules

Lives: Nowra, South Coast

Likes: Sailing, health and fitness, my 3 kids, and my chickens.

Joined SWD: March 2015

Position on Yacht: Strings

Age: 48

Meet Julia on video

Phil Walker

Nickname: Phil

Lives: Sydney

Likes: surf skip paddling, diving, fishing

Joined SWD: 2015

Position on Yacht: Bowman

Age: 45

Meet Phil on video

Jim Igoe

Nickname: Jim

Lives: Sydney

Likes: Pizza

Joined SWD: 2009

Position on Yacht: Mainsheet

Age: 65

Meet Jim on video

Peter Hopkins

Nickname: Hoppy

Lives: Hobart

Likes: Family and East Coast of Tassie

Joined SWD: 2015

Position on Yacht: Cockpit

Age: 60

Meet Peter on video

Jac Wilson

Nickname: Jac

Lives: Huskisson, Jervis Bay

Likes: sailing, dancing, reading and seeing people smile

Joined SWD: 2014

Position on yacht: Jac of all trades

Age: 58

Meet Jac on video

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