October 20 - 26, 2013: Issue 133

 Team Australia -  Big Bird’s Record Flight to Auckland

Team Australia in flight. Image by Andrea Francolini. 

 Big Bird’s Record Flight to Auckland - 19 OCTOBER 2013

When they passed between Auckland’s North Head and the leading lights at Rangitoto Channel at 9:12:43NZT this morning, the six-man crew on the giant multihull from Sydney nicknamed ‘Big Bird’ set a new world speed passage record from Sydney to Auckland. 

Once verified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council, it will be Team Australia’s second speed record in eight months having slayed the previous fastest time for the passage from Sydney to Hobart back in February. 

Skipper Sean Langman bravely predicts their elapsed time of 2 days 19 hours 2 minutes 45 seconds and 18.8 knot average speed for the Trans-Tasman ocean crossing will 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. 

“I reckon this record could stand for many years,” said the delighted skipper just before the champagne corks started popping. “The crew hasn’t had a big hug yet, we got 20 knots on us at the finish, had to furl sails, work out a tow in and then it started to rain…there was too much going on,” he added. 

Langman said they struck another obstacle, likely another large fish down the NZ east coast last night. 

“We hit what we think was another fish 30 miles offshore half way down the coast doing 25 knots. The boat went into an involuntary gybe when the rudder popped up and very quickly it was all hands on deck. It was then I declared fish are not my friends.” 

The Orma 60 was carrying some damage from the first afternoon out of Sydney. Langman reckoned they hit a shark which crushed the starboard foil chocks, causing the boat to nosedive at high speed. 

He said repairs will be made, with the boat still in the water, in time for next Friday’s PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic. 

Forty knots of puff on the first night had moderated to the thirties on the second night. By the third night Team Australia was in the doldrums at the centre of an inconveniently parked high pressure cell. With the help of meteorologist Roger Badham working overtime back in Australia the shackles were quickly cast off. The crew produced some special magic overnight, finding enough breeze offshore to be two hours ahead of the model at daybreak.

For the one Kiwi crewman aboard, Josh Alexander, coming into Auckland was sentimental though his immediate family live elsewhere these days.

“It’s good to see the place where I grew up sailing and where my passion for the sport stemmed from. I keep thinking to when, as a kid, I watched Peter Blake in the Whitbread and saying ‘one day that’s me’. It was emotional sailing in this morning for sure.

“I remember Martin Tasker interviewing me prior to leaving Auckland for the 2001/2 Volvo Ocean Race and telling him I was scared. I had almost the same feeling before leaving on this record, for different reasons; we had to keep two family members, Sean and Pete, safe and I was conscious of keeping the mast pointing to the sky!”

A much-awaited retrial between Team Australia and Simon Hull’s near identical Team Vodafone is shaping up to be one of the Coastal Classic highlights.

Langman is upping the ante for this race starting next Friday, taking on some new crew: round-the world sailing power duo Mike and Emma Sanderson and revered Australian navigator Adrienne Cahalan, plus a brand new suite of Doyle Sails NZ sails.

Team Australia’s racing team has other South Pacific records in their sights and will join most of the best-known Australian East Coast regattas and races over the summer.

Facebook page: here

Website: http://teamaus.net.au/

by Lisa Ratcliff/Team Australia media. Champagne! Image by Georgia Scholten Subzero


Team Australia is the ORMA 60 owned by Sean Langman and the name of its racing team. Weighs in at 5.6 tons and 60 feet in length and breadth.

Description: The radical multihull recently set a new elapsed time of 29 hours 52 minutes and 23 seconds for the famous stretch of water between Sydney and Hobart. This time is about to be sanctioned by the World Sailing Speed Record Council.

Over 630 nautical miles they averaged 21 knots and reached a top speed of 39.6 knots.

The former French-owned trimaran was in her former life raced hard repeatedly across the North Atlantic and won the doublehanded Transat Jacques Vabre from northern France to Brazil. 

Team Australia's crew plan to attempt more Southern Hemisphere passage records.

Upcoming Events

25 October 2013: PIC Insurance Brokers Coastal Classic Auckland to Russell Yacht Race

26 December 2013: Sydney to Hobart Exhibition Race against New Zealand’s Team Vodafone Sailing

2 January 2014: Club Marine Pittwater to Coffs Harbour Yacht Race

21 -27 January 2014: Festival of Sails regatta, Geelong

21 February 2014: Club Marine/Lexus – Adelaide to Port Lincoln Race

18 April 2014: QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race

 Team Australia passing Tiri Matangi, image credit Melanie Benton RNZYS.

 Team Aus crew: Top row:  Andy Woodward and  James Ogilvie. Bottom row: Peter Langman, Josh Alexander, Ben Kelly and Sean Langman . Image credit Georgia Scholten Subzero