by Rob Mundle
Just which offshore racing yacht is the fastest in the South Pacific will be decided at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August when two high performance 18.2 metre long trimarans – one from Australia and the other from New Zealand – go head-to-head, a match between Sean Langman’s Team Australia, out of Sydney, and Simon Hull’s Team Vodafone, from Auckland.
Team Australia at Sail Paradise, Gold Coast
These ORMA 60 class multihulls have brought a new dimension to offshore sailing in New Zealand and Australia over the past two years.
They have demonstrated speeds in excess of 30 knots in spectacular fashion, and both can lay claim to some amazing course record times: in April Team Australia set a new multihull record for the 308 nautical mile Brisbane to Gladstone race, and this week Team Vodafone sailed the fastest time ever recorded by a multihull for the 1000 nautical mile Auckland to Noumea race, lopping 20 hours off the previous record.
The upwind and downwind speed potential of the two boats is quite remarkable. Team Australia, when racing as Banque Populaire in France, averaged 27.79 knots for 24 hours and covered 667 nautical miles. That equates to a Sydney to Hobart race in less than a day!
Team Vodafone set the scene alight at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week last year, often scorching around the island courses on one hull amid a cloud of spray with the speedo steady on 31 knots. This year the scene will be even more spectacular as the two boats will be pressed to the limit while they go for superiority.
Langman is doing everything possible to put down the Kiwi challenge.
‘It is going to be a very exciting contest with Team Vodafone,’ said Langman, ‘and we’re doing everything we can to make sure we beat them. We’ve tweaked the boat quite a bit since the Gladstone race, and we are getting new foils made to help reduce drag.’
Langman said he was looking forward to enjoying every part of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, adding it was a regatta where there was the perfect balance between great racing in the tropics, exceptional dockside camaraderie between crews, and a party program that caters for everyone.
The number of entries for Race Week is rapidly approaching 100, which will be half the total fleet expected this year. The regatta, scheduled for August 17 to 25, is open to a wide spectrum of sailboats – from sport boats to cruising yachts, cruiser-racers and Grand Prix level keelboats, plus high-performance multihulls.
The Notice of Race and Entry Form at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012 website