Doin' it Langman style ...

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 02 Maret 2013 | 19.55

SEAN Langman's affinity with the water started from the day he was born on a boat on Sydney Harbour.

Everything he has done since has revolved around the water -- work, sport and lifestyle.

Given that, it was an easy decision for the 50-year-old Sydney businessman and crack seaman to buy and rejuvenate the Kermandie Hotel and adjacent marina and create a home away from home -- or, in his words, his spiritual home.

That's where Langman retreated to this week after the madness and mayhem of his record-breaking run from Sydney to Hobart last weekend aboard a super-light, ultra-quick 60-foot trimaran.

You could hear a pin drop in the tranquillity of Kermandie, nestled on the Huon River, where Langman keeps some of his most prized possessions -- vintage, fully restored timber boats.

Some date back to the 1880s, such as his beloved Olive May, a 130-year-old workhorse now powered by an engine built to pump water on to the fires of the Blitz in London during World War II.

"They say she's had more oysters across her deck than any other boat in Tasmania," Langman said proudly.

The Olive May couldn't be further removed from Langman's speed machine, Team Australia, the French-built carbonfibre beast that is now the record-holder for the fastest trip by sail between the two capital cities, arriving in Hobart last Saturday in one day, five hours, 52 minutes and 23 seconds.

That was 13 hours, 29 minutes and 11 seconds faster than the previous official record held by supermaxi Wild Oats XI, set in this summer's Sydney-Hobart yacht race.

The record attempt was a thrill-a-minute, and though Langman had done the trip many times in the Sydney-Hobart, it delivered the most frightening moment in his 40 years of sailing.

Just after sunrise on Saturday, the trimaran did what he feared most -- buried its noses into an oncoming wave. Langman's heart was in his mouth.

"You're sailing so fast, and it's so different to what any monohull sailors are used to, you have to be always on your guard and be prepared," he said.

"On a boat that goes half the speed, you ease into a scenario, but things happen very quickly on a boat like this.

"We buried it down to the mast, and all the rudders came out of the water -- that got my attention somewhat.

"You never cleat the sails on these boats, you've always got them in your hand.

"So as soon as we nose-dived very hard, the boys blew the jib off and when we came up again all that would come out of my mouth was 'Thank you'."

Langman and his crew left Sydney at 11am last Friday and arrived in Hobart 29 hours later.

"It was a goal I wanted to achieve and it's only just starting to sink in," he said.

"I've had a few pinch-myself moments, and the most heartening thing is the support we've gotten by the idea of us going on a good old-fashioned adventure.

"There's been so much negative stuff in sport over the past year or so that people all round the world have contacted us with congratulations for making that trip in 29 hours."

Team Australia is so powerful that it hit a top speed of 40.1 knots and at times was fully airborne.

"It's as close to flight as you can get. It's an astonishing feeling," Langman said.

The noise onboard has to be experienced to be believed.

"It sounds literally like a machine gun going off," Langman said. "That's from the pellets of spray hitting the carbonfibre hull and beams."

There was no time for sleep and Langman only left the helm three times -- each time to go to the toilet -- and eating was ad hoc, but consisted of meatloaf sandwiches, pasta and one canned meal.

Each of the seven crew carried a knife so that in the event of a capsize they could cut their way through the safety net and get to the surface.

In December, Langman did the Sydney-Hobart onboard his 80-year-old sloop Maluka of Kermandie, which is still at his Kermandie marina.

Maluka, the oldest yacht ever to do the race, was the slowest competitor in the 68th Sydney-Hobart.

"I shared a watch with my daughter on Maluka and as we crossed Bass Strait we sat there and counted stars," Langman said. "This time [in Team Australia] we were watching the clock as we crossed Bass Strait.

"On the [radar] screen I could see Green Cape, and then in a blink there's Flinders Island. It was so quick it was astonishing."

This week Langman was happily back on dry land running his bar and tapas lounge Sass Restaurant at the Kermandie Hotel, and taking charters aboard Olive May.

"I call Tasmania my spiritual home because, not being born here, I'm told I'll never be local, but I'm part of the furniture," he said.

"My heart and soul have belonged to Tasmania for a long time, and to have people arrive each day to see the boat and offer their congratulations, it has been very humbling."


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