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Wot Rocket focused on August for record attempt
Team McLube


The Publisher

Jul 10, 2008, 3:41 PM

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Wot Rocket focused on August for record attempt Log-In to Post/Reply

Sydney, NSW, Australia (July 10, 2008) - Wot Rocket will officially attempt to break the 500m world speed sailing record of 49.09 knots next month with pilot and creator Sean Langman nominating August for the 28 day window granted by the World Sailing Speed Record Council to coincide with the winter westerlies that traditionally prevail.

The Council has confirmed they are satisfied with the certificates for the Trimble GPS’s timing instruments and are aware of the August window. Once inside the window, the Wot Rocket project team is allowed seven days with an Australian based Council appointed Commissioner on site to ratify their speeds.

With a 20 knot plus WNW breeze forecast, tomorrow’s scheduled test sail on Botany Bay has been postponed until the end of next week when favourable conditions are expected to return.

Refinements resulting from Wot Rocket’s last outing are continuing at Noakes at Woolwich with a heavy job list already completed thanks to project manager Josh Alexander who is working full time on the ultimate ‘boy toy’.

At this point Langman believes their biggest challenge will be getting Wot Rocket up out of the water and skating on its two hydrofoils.

“We’ve designed a beast and once we learn how to fly it we can harness its full potential,” said Langman. “Getting airborne is the challenge, after that there’s no limit.”

Team website:

The Publisher

Aug 8, 2008, 1:42 PM

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Following a laborious build and modification program, which has easily swallowed up 3,000 work hours, and three months of sea trials, Wot Rocket’s official attempt on the current record is about to get underway on Botany Bay, Sydney.

Australian World Sailing Speed Record Council commissioner John Brooks will be on standby from Monday 11 to Sunday 17 August, the seven day window nominated by the Wot Rocket project team. Each day or some days during the window, depending on the forecast, Brooks will be notified an attempt is going to take place that day and will arrive on site to check the GPS’s calibration and ratify the time should Wot Rocket be successful in its record chase.

The current 500m world speed sailing record of 49.09 knots (90.9 kilometres per hour) was set in March in France by French sail boarder Antoine Albeau. The last time an Australian held this particular record was in 1993 when the asymmetric trimaran called Yellow Pages Endeavour set a then fastest time of 46.52 knots.

The long range forecast is promising; Wot Rocket’s ideal wind range being 15-20 knots, with the following schedule planned:

Saturday 9 August: WSW-SW/15-20
Sunday 10 August: W/15-20
Monday 11 August: W-WSW/15-20
Tuesday 12 August: SW/20-15-10
Wednesday 13 August: W-WSW/15-20

Team website:

The Publisher

Aug 11, 2008, 12:45 PM

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World speed record attempt: Day 1, Monday 11 August

Today heralded the start of Wot Rocket’s first official attempt on the 500m world speed sailing record of 49.09 knots.

With a World Sailing Speed Record Council commissioner and surveyor present, Sean Langman and his new co-pilot, Joe De Kock, took to the waters of Botany Bay in a WSW breeze that peaked at 17 knots before Wot Rocket headed ashore at midday for further steering refinements.

This afternoon at the launch pad at Kurnell the main hull rudder is being enlarged and a small rudder that was being trialled on the pod is being removed after it created drag as well as an opening for salt water. With a team of experts on hand De Kock estimates they’ve got around six hours work ahead of them before tomorrow’s second bout.

If the morning temperatures of 7-10 degrees and biting westerlies weren’t enough to bring on the winter woes, sitting in water inside the pod proved a bit hard to swallow for the new co-pilot. De Kock has sailed over 100,000 nautical miles with Langman and is no stranger to harsh conditions but he struggled today inside the cold watery compartment.

“I was worried about getting frostbite,” he joked. “The point when my feet went numb was actually a blessing because then I couldn’t tell how cold they were.”

De Kock has been brought in to replace former co-pilot Martin Thompson. A highly experienced 18 foot skiff, 49er and offshore sailor, De Kock also is the yard manager at Langman’s Noakes site at Newcastle, where Wot Rocket’s hull and wing sail were built, and has been involved in the project from the outset.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for W/SW 15-20 knots easing to SW-S/10-12 on Wednesday, although Wednesday’s models disagree at this stage with some showing WSW 28-25 knots all day. Thursday’s forecast is looking favourable with WSW 17-24 knots winds on the cards ahead of another promising day on Friday.

Given the likelihood it would coincide with the sort of weather window traditionally offered up in August, the Aussies nominated this week for their assault on the world speed sailing record. So far they’ve hit the mark.

The first round of attempts will go through until this Sunday, 17 August. If Wot Rocket fails to make its mark within the seven day window Langman and his team will be back after Audi Hamilton Island Race Week - and hungrier than ever.

Wot Rocket sponsors Noakes Boat & Shipyards and Graeme Wood, founder of Australasia's number one accommodation website, Nexus, Warringah Plastics, Harken, Gurit Australia and Superyachting.
NB to Sydney media: A media boat is available each day from Monday 11 through to Sunday 17 August. Each morning by 7.30am a decision will be made on whether Wot Rocket will sail that day, and the pilot will advise on the likelihood of the conditions favouring a record attempt. If you would like to be updated throughout the week and haven’t already notified Lisa, please email her. At this stage Thursday and Friday appear the days best suited to the record challenge.

The Publisher

Aug 12, 2008, 1:33 PM

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12 August 2008

Spectacular cartwheel ends Wot Rocket’s first official world speed record attempt

A sudden spectacular cartwheel has ended Wot Rocket’s first round of official attempts on the 500m world speed sailing record on Botany Bay.

With the pod lifting out of the water on a number of occasions this morning and pilot Sean Langman’s confidence building, he decided to trial a different runway on flatter water just off Dolls Point.

In an 18-20 knot westerly wind Wot Rocket accelerated to an estimated 30 knots of boat speed before the crew found themselves flying blind, without instruments and with co-pilot Joe De Jock unable to ease the wing sail and Langman unable to steer.

“I tried to bear away and we fully pitch poled (end over end),” said Langman this afternoon, the adrenalin still pumping hard as he waited for a crane to help pull Wot Rocket apart for loading onto its trailer.

“We went for the run of the day. It was the best nose dive I’ve ever done...and walked away from.”

Until the project team fully investigates, the reason why Wot Rocket went belly up won’t be known. Langman’s hunch is that there was too much load on the front foil.

When asked how De Kock’s nerves were fairing, given it was only his second day sitting in the rear of the pod, Langman proudly proclaimed him “a lunatic”.

“Just before the crash Joe was telling me how much he loves sailing with me...I don’t think that’s changed,” Langman added.

The damage report is substantial and Langman estimates it will be weeks before they are back on the water. A quick once over this afternoon has revealed a broken mast step, suspected delamination of the Nomex in the wing sail and broken fairing on the transverse beam. A new set of instruments will also have to be ordered.

The Wot Rocket project team will have to lodge another notice of intention to attempt the 500 world speed sailing record with the World Sailing Speed Record Council and then nominate another seven day window within a 30 day timeframe.

Image: Wot Rocket upside after the crash that ended the first round of attempts on the world speed sailing record, credit Chris Stirling.

Attachments: stirling_WR.JPG (253 KB)

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