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Friday, February 22, 2013

Team Australia Looking Good To Smash Sydney-Hobart Speed Record

Team Australia successfully crossed Bass Strait overnight and is now making its way down the Tasmanian East Coast. At 7:00am their Yellowbrick tracker had them doing 26 knots of boat speed off St. Helens with two thirds of their attempt and the worst conditions in their wake.
Photo: Andrea Francolini
North-east winds 20-25 knots and a following sea is the perfect combination for Team Australia to successfully complete its record attempt on the 630 nautical mile Sydney to Hobart passage record set by Bob Oatley’s supermaxi Wild Oats XI less than two months ago.
Photo: Andrea Francolini
“We are pretty wet and tired. It feels like we are drowning,” said the weary helmsman and navigator Josh Alexander via satellite phone this morning.

“There is water everywhere and it keeps coming in as the hatches leaking. The food’s been good though,” he added.

He’s also had opportunities to raid the Tim Tam jar given he hasn’t slept since they left their World Sailing Speed Record Council sanctioned start line at Sydney Heads just before 11:00am yesterday morning.

Amazingly Team Australia hasn’t broken any gear and “the boat is in great shape” assured Alexander.

Based on weather routing they anticipate reaching Tasman Light in 5-6 hours, around lunchtime or early afternoon, and the finish off Battery Point this afternoon. That would mean a course time of less than 30 hours. The current record is just over 42 hours.

“At this stage our ETA in Hobart is 3:00-4:00pm, depending on how we go around Tasman Light,” Alexander said this morning. We have to go upwind across Storm Bay and up the Derwent and that might slow us up a bit, but we will be in flat water. The sea really calmed down across the Strait and now it’s a pretty easy following sea, which is much more comfortable.”

Overnight with three reefs and a staysail up they were sitting on 30-35 knots for a good three hours Alexander was literally flying blind when he hit his top speed of 38 knots in the dark while in command of the tiller. 

“We were holding on and sending it. The boys are tired and wet but Sean [Langman] is happy with where we are going and we are on a good track to break the record.”

Skipper Sean Langman often refers to Tasmania as his “spiritual home” and in 2005 he bought a business on the Huon River. He has arrived in Hobart 23 times with the Sydney Hobart fleet on the biggest supermaxi, the smallest classic timber yacht and the famous oversized skiff, Xena, among others.

Now he’s looking at a very different arrival in Hobart with just seven crew on an imposing multihull and hopes of setting a new benchmark for the famous stretch of water.

To follow Team Australia’s record attempt go to http://my.yb.tl/teamaustralia/

Lisa Ratcliff

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