Fastest man in Australia


James Boyd meets Sean Langman, skipper, owner and incessant modifier of the tabooed Open 60 Grundig Xena.
Sean Langham in his boatyard with his steed "I used to say that I had the boat, because I didn't have a Porsche, but I won a Porsche in the lottery a month ago," brags Sean Langman, the man with the hottest offshore yacht in Australia. Langman, a former rigger has owned and run Noakes Boatyard in North Sydney since 1995 and his preference for fast open class racing machines has led to a lot of like-minded boat owners gathering at his yard. When I visited last week there was the trimaran Great American II, freshly arrived from breaking the New York to Melbourne record. There was also the Open 60 that Russian skipper Fedor Konyukhov dogged around the world in Around Alone and the Vendee Globe - the boat has now been sold and is being coverted into a crew racer. In the yard they are busy getting boats ready for the Sydney-Hobart, but Langman is pulling his hair out as his boat Grundig Xena is not rating. Tape measures surround his boat which towers out of the water above her enormous keel, while weights are hung from key parts of it. The boat looks....hot. Its graphics have a Silk Cut-style shark on the bow and hot rod-style flames around her newly elongated stern. Langman purchased the boat in 1999 having sailed the Sydney-Hobart on the former Whitbread maxi ketch, The Card (renamed Nokia), the previous year. "I got to the end of that race with a commitment to do it [the Hobart race] with my own boat next time," says Langman. Veteran Australian solo round the worlder Kanga Birtles had built an Open 60 to take part in the Vendee Globe, but had been unable to raise the sponsorship to take part and found himself on the wrong side of

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