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18ft Skiffs: Sean Langman, a real supporter

by Frank Quealey 20 Sep 07:34 BST
Typical Sean Langman style driving Noakesailing hard off the wind © Frank Quealey

One of the Australian 18 Footers League's best supporters for many years has been one of Australia's most versatile sailors, Sean Langman.

Sean has not only competed regularly in the club's 18ft Skiff fleet on Sydney Harbour for 25 years, he has regularly sponsored his own campaigns as well as campaigns to support some of Australia's talented young sailors.

With the League's 2020-2021 Season due to commence on Sunday, October 11, Sean will continue his campaign with the same two teams as last season.

Sean will skipper Noakesailing and Yvette Heritage will again be at the helm of Noakes Blue. Both had successful seasons in 2019-2020 and can expect to be well in contention again this year.

Noakesailing scored five top-7 placings during the 2020 JJ Giltinan world Championship to finish eighth overall. Noakes Blue was consistent throughout the regatta and finished 14th overall in the 24-boat fleet.

As Managing Director of Noakes Group, Sean originally introduced Noakes Youth to assist young people make their way in the world. His daughter Nikki was the first youth co-ordinator.

The original Noakes Youth involvement in the 18s was 2007 when Jacqui Bonnitcha contested the JJ Giltinan world Championship, against a very strong 32-boat fleet, on Sydney Harbour.

Since then, Ash Rooklyn and Kirk Mitchell flew the Noakes Youth flag before Yvette Heritage joined Sean's group as Noakes Blue in 2019-2020.

As Yvette explained, "the Noakes Blue theme represents the recreational business side of Noakes, which has an approach of inclusiveness within their business and community."

Australian 18 Footers League President, John Winning said: "Our club fully appreciates Sean's efforts to support talented sailors in the class as it fits perfectly with the Club's policy of introducing new talent to the 18s to ensure the sport's long-term future."

A real highlight of an incredible nautical career must be the Sydney to Auckland record set by Sean and his crew of the 60ft trimaran Team Australia (nicknamed 'Big Bird') in October 2013.

Sean predicted afterwards that he believed their elapsed time of 2 days 19 hours 2 minutes 45 seconds and 18.8 knot average speed for the Trans-Tasman ocean crossing would stand for decades.

"We had perfect conditions, essentially we beam reached on port to the tip of NZ, gybed, parked for a couple of hours then beam reached on starboard to the finish, a scenario that is basically unheard of."

It was Team Australia's second speed record in eight months. The 60ft trimaran had set a new fastest elapsed time of 29 hours 52 minutes 23 seconds for the passage from Sydney to Hobart in February 2013.

In addition to his sailing talent and business acumen, Sean has a natural talent as a promoter.

The inclusion of high-profile sporting champions and a variety of media personalities over the years has helped to promote whatever nautical event in which Sean was competing.

With such an incredible variety of craft in his illustrious nautical career, from high-tech, record-breaking racing machines to the 1932-built gaff-rigger Maluka, when asked which boat he would prefer to sail, not surprisingly Sean said: "I love sailing all the boats I'm involved in. Each has their unique challenges!"

Aside from his wonderful record of achievement on the water, Sean has always been a person with a positive outlook and an ever-ready willingness to assist talented sailors in their quest to achieve results in keeping with those talents.

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