Sean Langman’s speed sailing trimaran Team Australia.Record cast in stone

Back in the early 1960s Hedley Nicol then known as the guru of Australian multihull offshore racing confidently predicted that it was possible to sail the 308 nautical miles from Brisbane’s Moreton Bay to Gladstone in under 18 hours.

Most who heard that statement delivered on the dock at Gladstone’s O’Connell wharf after Hedley Nicol steered his self-designed and built trimaran Vagabond to her line honours triumph in the very first multihull race to Gladstone in 1964 thought that he was ‘spiking’ the gathering into a debate.

But that was not the case. The trailblazing designer and builder had responsibly made his prediction based on experience and believed his inaugural race time stood to be challenged.

Unfortunately the trail blazing multihull racing advocate lost his life in the storm tormented Pacific Ocean in the early stages of a planned voyage to America in August 1966.

Over the past 48 years his prediction progressively became a reality when the Adrian Rodgers skippered catamaran Shockwave became the first to complete the course under the super fast 20 hour mark, before Martyn Riley steered the Melbourne catamaran Raw Nerve to her remarkable course time of 18hrs 55mins 9secs in blustery south east winds in 2004.

As expected the record challenge was on the agenda when Sean Langman, who has the career distinction of setting two of the three fastest times ever recorded in the mono class Brisbane-Gladstone race, entered his speed sailing trimaran Team Australia.

Team Australia which had already set a remarkable 27.7 knot average as a career bench mark when she raced under the name of Banque Populaire in Europe had the proven credentials to qualify as the favourite to move Hedley Nicol’s 48-year-old prediction into reality.

Thankfully the normal Easter trade wind was in place when Team Australia with her eight person crew including skipper Sean Langman, his 18-year-old son Peter, female International match racing skipper Katie Spithill as tactician and former Volvo Globe sailor Josh Alexander power sailed out of Moreton Bay covering the first 127nm with a spray drenching average speed of 18.63 knots.

The thrill a second sail towards a new Gladstone Race record continued as the crew who were answering the demands of sailing their first official coastal passage race on Team Australia left their rivals over 30 miles astern as the continued their fast and thrilling ride.

The average speed had climbed to an even more remarkable 19.28 knots when the crew sailed on a super fast course towards Australian blue water racing history while their eight rivals headed by Boss Racing and Mojo understandably slipped further behind.

Skipper Sean Langman and his exceptionally talented crew eventually claimed a special milestone in the sport of Australian ocean racing when Team Australia completed the course in 16hrs 28mins 21secs breaking Raw Nerve’s record by 2hrs 26mins 48secs with an average speed of 18.70 knots.

This remarkable achievement has finally proved that the statement made by Hedley Nicol 48 years ago and suggested by the disbelievers as impossible is now a reality.

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Laser master blaster

There was a special element of personal pride evident when the veteran Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron skipper Kerry Waraker stepped ashore after winning the Olympic Laser Great Grand Masters World championship on Waterloo Bay in March.

The super fit 72-year-old, who first started his long career in the sport as a nine-year-old bailer boy with his father Glen racing in the rough waters on Gladstone Harbour, expressed his unique skill during a physically demanding championship.

His determination and tactical knowledge of racing on Waterloo Bay proved to be an important factor in winning eight of the 12 races to claim the World championship by a clear 18 points over the defending champion Keith Wilkins of England while former champion American Peter Seidenberg claimed the bronze medal.

Sailing has been his passion but his relatively light 75kg bodyweight meant that he would suffer some extreme tests of endurance hanging by his ankles from the hiking straps when racing against some of the nation’s best during a long career.

However, he still managed to add a number of Queensland championship awards to his personal trophy cabinet.

Kerry Waraker, Laser Master blaster.Despite his light bodyweight Kerry Waraker was never known to give up when he was blown sideways in the stronger winds.

“There has been a lot of pain along the way but the sport has provided the opportunity to become embraced within a unique fellowship,” Kerry Waraker said.

The 72-year-old experienced that special fellowship when he was presented with his deserved World championship trophy.

Hopefully he has set aside plans to defend when the 2013 championship battlelines are set in Oman where he will again meet his respected mates from England and America to highlight another phase in a successful career.

“It is always a nice feeling to win on your home waters,” he said.

Certainly a fitting reward for the veteran Olympic Laser dinghy racing skipper after a run of four silver medals to go with his previous World championship win in Brazil several seasons ago.

The relatively modest champion who thought that it would be a good idea to be involved with extending his career after reading about World championship racing for older sailors in Australian sailing magazines is happy to be known as the quiet achiever.

Besides being a successful sailor Kerry Waraker has been honoured with a Life Membership of the Queensland Laser Association and is a current member of the Sailing Committee at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.

His loyalty to the sport is a measure of his respected character. He enjoys volunteering and the chance to put some time back into sailing which has provided numerous treasured experiences and opportunity to remain as a vintage class member of the world wide Laser sailing family.

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Black Jack too classy

Peter Harburg’s Black Jack ocean racing crew left nothing on the water to eventually pave the way to win 64th QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone Race by a comfortable margin over the Easter weekend.

Black Jack skippered by Mark Bradford entered a challenge to win the tactically testing 308nm classic four years ago.

They won line honours in 2009 and 2010 and were outpaced by Peter Millard’s Lahana in 2011 however they fell short of the achieving owner Peter Harburg’s ambition to win the race on corrected handicap.

Interestingly Peter Harburg, who has a personal passion for motor sport naming his yacht Black Jack after his good friend and World champion Sir Jack Brabham, has continued to provide his racing team with the inspiration and budget to now be recognised as Queensland’s best in the sport.

His encouragement and persistence was rewarded over the Easter Weekend when Black Jack, skilfully sailed for almost 23 hours in a nip and tuck tactical tussle against the larger super maxi’s Wild Thing (Grant Wharington) and Lahana (Peter Millard), was officially declared the overall winner in Gladstone on Easter Sunday.

The Black Jack crew now understand that there are rewards for doing the hard yards which involved a high number of sail changes, gybes and sets during their line honours arm wrestle against their maxi rivals.

Mark Bradford had the belief that if it came down to a ‘slug fest’ that his crew of good mates would come out on top.

“We are made up from a team of good mates who are dedicated to make our program succeed and this result represents a deserved reward,” he said.

Their collective professional attitude resulted in Black Jack producing a runaway 2:43:50 corrected time win over Lahana while Rob Hanna’s TP 52 Shogun V filled third another 1:33:07 astern.