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18ft Skiffs: Sean Langman's wide world of sailing

by Frank Quealey 1 Nov 2019 00:29 PDT
Noakesailing treats sunbathers at a harbourside beach with the speed and action associated with the 18ft Skiffs © Frank Quealey

Sean Langman, one of Australia's best-known and most versatile sailors, has set himself for another wide-ranging program in the 2019-2020 Australian summer with a season of 18ft Skiff Racing on Sydney Harbour, as skipper on Noakesailing, as well as skippering the 69ft Naval Group in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2019.

Langman's season has already tasted success with the Noakesailing team of Langman, Ed Powys and Nathan Edwards winning two of the first three races so far in the Australian 18 Footers League's Spring Championship on Sydney Harbour.

Powys is a highly credentialled sailor from the UK who has competed in the 49er class, the Extreme Sailing Series, British team for the 35th America's Cup and SailGP. Edwards is a young, local skiff sailor who is having his third season sailing in the League's 18ft Skiff fleet on Sydney Harbour.

Never one to sit back and watch the world go by, Sean has achieved many successes both on, and off, the water, and has always been prepared to put his money where his mouth is, and has assisted so many young and talented sailors along the way.

Sean, Noakes Group's Managing Director, claimed he primarily introduced Noakes Youth to assist young people make their way in the world, and once said "I called it opportunity and choice." Sean's daughter, Nicki, was the first youth co-ordinator.

Sean's original Noakes Youth involvement came in the 18s in 2007 when he supported Jacqui Bonnitcha with her campaign to contest the 2007 JJ Giltinan (world) Championship on Sydney Harbour. Ash Rooklyn later had similar support for two seasons in the 18s.

Sean's latest recruit to the 18s is Yvette Heritage, who is presently competing against her 'sponsor' under the Noakes Blue banner. The Noakes Blue theme represents the Recreation business side of Noakes, which has an approach of inclusiveness within the business and the community.

The 2019 journey south to Hobart on Naval Group, built as Money Penny, will be a different one to those in recent years when Sean skippered the 1932-built, 30ft gaff-rigger, named Maluka of Kermandie.

Sean says: "We are supported by the French company Naval Group, who are building submarines in Australia. The purpose of the Naval Group yacht is to facilitate Team building within the Australian-French Naval Group work force."

A real highlight of an incredible nautical career must be the Sydney to Auckland record set by Sean and his crew of the 60ft trimaran Team Australia (nicknamed 'Big Bird') in October 2013.

Sean predicted afterwards that he believed their elapsed time of 2 days 19 hours 2 minutes 45 seconds and 18.8 knot average speed for the Trans-Tasman ocean crossing would stand for decades.

"We had perfect conditions, essentially we beam reached on port to the tip of NZ, gybed, parked for a couple of hours then beam reached on starboard to the finish, a scenario that is basically unheard of."

It was Team Australia's second speed record in eight months. The 60ft trimaran had set a new fastest elapsed time of 29 hours 52 minutes 23 seconds for the passage from Sydney to Hobart in February 2013.

In addition to his sailing talent and business acumen, Sean has a natural talent as a promoter.

The inclusion of high-profile sporting champions and a variety of media personalities over the years has helped to promote whatever nautical event in which Sean was competing.

With such an incredible variety of craft in his illustrious nautical career, from high-tech, record-breaking racing machines to the 1932-built gaff-rigger, when asked which boat he would prefer to sail, not surprisingly Sean said: "I love Sailing all the boats I'm involved in. Each has their unique challenges!"

On Sunday, the Noakesailing team will go into Race 4 of the Australian 18 Footers League's 2019-2020 Spring Championship just one point behind the series leader appliancesonline.com.au (Brett Van Munster, Phil Marshall, Kurt Fatouris).

Both teams have been consistent in the races sailed so far, but the Noakesailing crew will have to be at its very best as they are conceding start to every other team in the fleet on Sunday.

Progress points so far in the championship are: appliancesonline.com.au on 14, Noakesailing - 15, Birkenhead Point Marina - 18, Dal Zotto - 19, Finport Finance - 22, Yandoo - 23, Winning Group - 23, RMarine - 25, Rag & Famish Hotel - 25, The Oak Double Bay-4 Pines - 25, Vintec - 28, The Kitchen Maker-Caesarstone - 31, Smeg - 33, Ilve - 34, Team Dorron - 36, Noakes Blue - 39.

Two new teams yet to compete in the championship are Tech2 and Team Clout.

Spectators can see all the teams in the rigging area, then follow the racing on board the spectator ferry, which leaves Double Bay Wharf, alongside the rigging area, each race day at 2pm.

Book online through the club's website www.18footers.com.

The livestream video team is also out on Sydney Harbour to capture all the action for those who can't make it onto the water. Livestreaming is available by going to www.18footers.com and clicking on the '18 Footers TV' link.

As well as watching the livestreaming coverage, you can also follow all the club's racing throughout the entire 2019-2020 Racing Season:

  • Club Website - www.18footers.com
  • Twitter - @18skiff
  • Instagram - @18skiff
  • Facebook - International 18Ft Skiff

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