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Sydney-Hobart Passage Record Challenge - Green light is on!!

by Lisa Ratcliff on 21 Feb 2013
Team Australia - Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2012 © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
Team Australia Sydney to Hobart Passage Record Challenge. A trough line moving down the NSW coast from Queensland looks set to bring conditions at the 'upper end of ideal' says Sean Langman, skipper of the 60-foot trimaran Team Australia on the eve of his attempt on the 14 year-old passage record from Sydney to Hobart.

Team Australia is hoping to put a serious dent in superyacht Mari Cha III’s 1999 World Speed Sailing Record Council sanctioned time for the distance of 630 nautical miles between Sydney and Hobart, Tasmania, of one day 18 hours 27 minutes and 10 seconds.

If Team Australia leaves Sydney Harbour at the scheduled start time of 10.30am tomorrow they have until just before 5am Sunday morning to set a new passage record.

Strong forecast ESE to ENE winds mean the trimaran could potentially slice half a day or more off Marie Cha’s time. The Orma 60 trimaran is capable of a top speed of 42 knots (77.7kph).

The likely scenario is that the trimaran will be steaming along flying one or both hulls; worst case scenario is it pitchpoles (flips over end for end).

'We will either smash the record or smash the boat,' warns crewman Larry Jamieson. 'We are not trying to be foolhardy, but the consequence of running into something like a shark or log at 30 knots means we are likely to snap something and will be limping into port before we sink, which would be a downer.'

Langman, a Rolex Sydney Hobart veteran of 23 races, will head up a total crew of seven including a late addition, his 19 year-old son Peter Langman who has already completed two Sydney Hobarts and four Bass Strait Crossings.

They will be joined by Josh Alexander (sailing master), Larry Jamieson (sail trimmer), Aaron Hampo (grinder, cook, comic relief), James Ogilvie (mainsail trimmer/rigger) and Shaun ‘Kiwi’ McKnight (navigator).

This will be Jamieson’s 30th Bass Strait crossing and amazingly from his 28 Rolex Sydney Hobart races he has finished every single race. 'I hope my luck continues to run true for this crossing,' the trimmer said today.

From the time he owned the maxi chaser, Xena, back in the early 2000s, Sean Langman has believed the Rolex Sydney Hobart race record could potentially be reduced to 36 hours. In 2011 he bought the Orma 60 in France where these blisteringly fast multihulls regularly chase records, which is exactly what Langman intends to do in the Southern Hemisphere.

Langman says when there are opportunities to rest the drivers in particular they will try and take those breaks, to stave off exhaustion and mental fatigue. It won’t be fresh linen and a dry bed though, more like lying on a hard deck trying to find a corner out of the salt spray.

Cook Aaron Hampo says there will be plenty of 'carb loading and sugar consumption' to keep energy levels high during their blast south. 'I’ve got lots of lollies, bread rolls, Hawaii meatloaf made with brown sugar, pasta for dinner, fruit cups and enough Gatorade powder to make up 32 litres. We are also taking glucose tablets, poppers and Tim Tams.'



Hampo also has a new discovery he will trial during the attempt, a soup that heats by pushing the bottom of the can and shaking for a minute, 'an excellent idea when you are freezing cold in the middle of the night, it’s too rough to heat food on the stove and you need to warm up quickly,' he says.

Team Australia need to average more than 14.83 knots to break the existing course record. They are hoping to complete the passage off Battery Point, Hobart, in just outside 24 hours. The start is planned for 10.30am tomorrow morning, Friday February 22, between North and South Head, Sydney Harbour.

Forecaster Roger Badham is predicting maximum breeze at the start, ESE winds at 23-27 knots and off the far south coast of NSW, E-ENE at 18-23 knots. For the run across the Strait ENE winds 24-28 knots (maybe 25-30) are expected and NE 22-27 knots off the Tassie coast tending NNE-N/22-28 on the lower east Team Australia

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