Sean Langman's Wot Rocket speed sailer takes a tumble

Tuesday August 12th 2008, Author: Lisa Ratcliffe, Location: United Kingdom
A sudden spectacular cartwheel has ended Wot Rocket’s first round of official attempts on the 500m world speed sailing record on Botany Bay.

With the pod lifting out of the water on a number of occasions this morning and pilot Sean Langman’s confidence building, he decided to trial a different runway on flatter water just off Dolls Point.

In an 18-20 knot westerly wind Wot Rocket accelerated to an estimated 30 knots of boat speed before the crew found themselves flying blind, without instruments and with co-pilot Joe De Jock unable to ease the wing sail and Langman unable to steer.

“I tried to bear away and we fully pitch poled (end over end),” said Langman this afternoon, the adrenalin still pumping hard as he waited for a crane to help pull Wot Rocket apart for loading onto its trailer. “We went for the run of the day. It was the best nose dive I’ve ever done...and walked away from.”

Until the project team fully investigates, the reason why Wot Rocket went belly up won’t be known. Langman’s hunch is that there was too much load on the front foil.

When asked how De Kock’s nerves were fairing, given it was only his second day sitting in the rear of the pod, Langman proudly proclaimed him “a lunatic”.

“Just before the crash Joe was telling me how much he loves sailing with me...I don’t think that’s changed,” Langman added.

The damage report is substantial and Langman estimates it will be weeks before they are back on the water. A quick once over this afternoon has revealed a broken mast step, suspected delamination of the Nomex in the wing sail and broken fairing on the transverse beam. A new set of instruments will also have to be ordered.

The Wot Rocket project team will have to lodge another notice of intention to attempt the 500 world speed sailing record with the World Sailing Speed Record Council and then nominate another seven day window within a 30 day timeframe.

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