Blast off for Team Australia
The leash was firmly on Team Australia when the ORMA 60 began her Sydney to Hobart record attempt this morning from between Sydney Heads. But once the 60ft trimaran made it through the worst of the nasty chop between the Heads and hit open water, the speed machine tore off in the 18-20 knot southeasterly.
With very little sail up Langman found he was short of power to drive through the swell so the reefs were soon shaken out of the mainsail and the boat freed.
Spectator, friend and former Tornado coach Mike Fletcher was alongside: “The sea was horrendous due to wind wave on top of swell. They needed more grunt to get through it, once they had more sail up and were into proper ocean wave they were fine.”
At the 1.30pm satellite report the boat was off Wollongong doing 12 knots, earlier they were running south at 23 knots.
The official time for the start between North Head and Hornby Lighthouse on South Head, as recorded by World Sailing Speed Council representative John Brooks, was 10:58:57.
Dressed in full wet weather gear, thermals and wearing PFD life vests, the crew left Berrys Bay this morning with stomachs churning and faces set. The record might be on their minds, but so is the safety risk of literally flying south at breakneck speed when the anticipated easterly breeze builds.
A south-moving low off the northern New South Wales coast has created the sort of weather window the seven crew has been waiting for to make an attempt on the current passage record of 1 day 18 hours 23 minutes and 12 seconds set by Wild Oats XI in last year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race.
Team Australia has to average 14.83 knots and finish off Battery Point in Hobart before 5.30 on Sunday morning, 24 February, to better Wild Oats XI’s time for the 630 nautical mile course.
The breeze is expected to back into the east this afternoon and strengthen to 20-25 knots, just what Team Australia needs to wind back up to well above record pace.