Photos: Jane Austin

Under 30 hours

Sean Langman's ORMA 60 sets new Sydney-Hobart course record

Sunday February 24th 2013, Author: Lisa Ratcliff, Location: Australia

Sean Langman’s ORMA 60 trimaran Team Australia took the Tasman Sea express lane and has smashed the previous fastest time from Sydney to Hobart by 12 hours and a half hours.

Team Australia set a new elapsed time of 29 hours 52 minutes and 23 seconds, bettering the previous time set last December by Wild Oats XI by 12 hours 30 minutes 49 seconds, although this is still subject to ratification by the WSSRC.

Ahead of a 12-15 knot NE breeze, Team Australia coasted past the Castray Esplanade finish box, recording an unofficial finish time of 16:51:20 or 4.51pm local time. This time will be verified by the recording device installed on the boat by WSSRC representative John Brooks prior to leaving Sydney Heads yesterday morning.

Their start time from between North Head and the Hornby Lighthouse on South Head was 10:58:57 Friday morning, 23 February 23, and average speed for the 630 nautical mile stretch was 21 knots.

An exhausted Sean Langman this evening said they never took their wet weather gear or lifejackets off: “We were always on the edge- that’s what sailing these boats is like.” On their time he reckons there is still potential to take the record even lower. “We’ll have another go when someone else breaks ours.” Langman's own boat, in her previous incarnation as Banque Populaire IV on one occasion she covered 667 miles in 24 hours.

After an hour’s sleep broken up into two cat naps, he was understandably drained as he spoke to Hobart media and well-wishers who have been following the trimaran’s progress via satellite tracking.

While Bob Oatley’s 100ft supermaxi Wild Oats XI will remain the Sydney Hobart yacht race record holder with their time of 42 hours 23 minutes and 12 seconds, Team Australia will be added to the WSSRC’s list of sanctioned passage records.

After a shaky start in the angry backwash off the cliffs at South Head yesterday morning, the seven crew, including skipper Sean Langman, son Peter Langman, Larry Jamieson, Shaun McKnight, James Ogilvie, Aaron Hampo and Josh Alexander rode the strong nor’easter across Bass Strait to arrive waterlogged into Hobart on a sunny summer’s afternoon.

With the passage record comfortably clinched, Team Australia’s new target this afternoon was to finish in less than 30 hours – they scraped in by a matter of seven and a half minutes.

The multihull’s top speed was recorded today, “39.6 knots….we are coming home HOT!!!” said Alexander, the excitement back in his voice as they steamed to the finish.

The optimal weather window was no fluke, Langman and Alexander worked closely with world renowned marine forecaster, Roger ‘Clouds’ Badham, in the lead-up to the attempt to hand pick the start time.

As well as optimum winds and sea state, timing the run ahead of the whale migration north and the possibility of hitting a giant humpback and causing major damage was a priority.

Langman’s greatest worry was hitting a submerged object or marine life at breakneck speed. In the end all they broke was one mainsail car.


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