Sydney-Hobart Passage Record Challenge - Team Australia begins quest

Sean Langman’s Team Australia’’s attempt to break the pasage race record from Sydney to Hobart
Sydney to Hobart Passage Record Challenge - The leash was firmly on Team Australia when it began its record attempt this morning from between Sydney Heads, but once the giant trimaran made it through the worst of the nasty chop between Sydney Heads and hit open water, the speed machine was given its head.

With an 18-20 knot sou’easter blowing, the Orma 60 trimaran began its passage record attempt conservatively, skipper Sean Langman slowly easing the boat through the huge swell and whitewater at Sydney Heads.

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.

Sean Langman’s Team Australia’s attempt to break the passage race record from Sydney to Hobart

Spectator and friend 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.

Sean Langman’s Team Australia’s attempt to break the pasage race record from Sydney to Hobart

Dressed in sailing’s equivalent to battle gear - 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 pressure system off the northern New South Wales coast has created the sort of weather window the seven crew have 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 5.30am on Sunday morning, 24 February, to better Wild Oats XI’s time for the 630 nautical mile course.

Sean Langman’s Team Australia’s attempt to break the pasage race record from Sydney to Hobart

The breeze is expected to swing towards the east this afternoon and strengthen to 20-25 knots, just what Team Australia needs to wind back up to well above record pace.

To track Team Australia’s record attempt go to Team Australia Passage Record Challenge website