Team Australia’s Sydney Hobart express ride
by Lisa Ratcliff on 23 Feb 2013
Sean Langman’s radical 60-foot trimaran Team Australia took the Tasman Sea express lane and this evening smashed the previous fastest time from Sydney to Hobart by a whopping 12 hours and a half hours.
Hulls flying Team Australia & moth credit - New Sydney Hobart passage record holder Team Australia - blasts home Jane Austin
They set a new elapsed time of 29 hours 52 minutes and 23 seconds, bettering the previous time set last December by Wild Oats XI by 12 hours 30 minutes 49 seconds.
Ahead of a 12-15 knot NE breeze, Team Australia coasted past the Castray Esplanade finish box, recording an unofficial finish time of 16:51:20 or 4.51pm.
This time will be verified by the recording device installed on the boat by World Sailing Speed Record Council representative John Brooks prior to leaving Sydney Heads yesterday morning.
Their start time from between North Head and the Hornby Lighthouse on South Head was 10:58:57 Friday morning, February 23, and average speed for the 630 nautical mile stretch was 21 knots.
An exhausted Sean Langman this evening said they never took their wet weather gear or lifejackets off, 'we were always on the edge, that’s what sailing these boats is like.' On their time he reckons there is still potential to take the record even lower. 'We’ll have another go when someone else breaks ours.'
After an hour’s sleep broken up into two 'cat naps' he was understandably drained as he spoke to Hobart media and well-wishers who have been following the trimaran’s progress via satellite tracking.
While Bob Oatley’s 100ft supermaxi Wild Oats XI will remain the Sydney Hobart yacht race record holder with their time of 42 hours 23 minutes and 12 seconds, the ORMA 60 trimaran Team Australia will be added to the WSSRC’s list of sanctioned passage records.
After a shaky start in the angry backwash off the cliffs at South Head yesterday morning, the seven crew, including skipper Sean Langman, son Peter Langman, Larry Jamieson, Shaun McKnight, James Ogilvie, Aaron Hampo and Josh Alexander rode the strong nor’easter across Bass Strait to arrive waterlogged into Hobart on a sunny summer’s afternoon.
With the passage record comfortably clinched, Team Australia’s new target this afternoon was to finish in less than 30 hours – they scraped in by a matter of seven and a half minutes.
The multihull’s top speed was recorded today, '39.6 knots….we are coming home HOT!!!' said Alexander, the excitement back in his voice as they steamed to the finish.
The optimal weather window was no fluke, Langman and Alexander worked closely with world renowned marine forecaster, Roger ‘Clouds’ Badham, in the lead-up to the attempt to hand pick the start time.
As well as optimum winds and sea state, timing the run ahead of the whale migration north and the possibility of hitting a giant humpback and causing major damage was a priority.
Langman’s greatest worry was hitting a submerged object or marine life at breakneck speed. In the end all they broke was one mainsail car, a small and relatively insignificant piece of plastic and a surprising outcome given the extreme sustained loads on the boat and gear.
The former French-owned trimaran was more than capable of withstanding the rigours of the passage to Hobart having in her former life been raced hard repeatedly across the North Atlantic and won the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre from northern France to Brazil.