Naval Group completes “easiest” Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race

The Sean Langman, skipper of the Reichel Pugh 69 Naval Group, has declaring the 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race the easiest of his 28 Hobarts in an array of boats.

Trapped in the notorious Derwent River after sunset on December 28, the mixed Australian and French team inched towards the finish line to record an elapsed time of 2 days, 11 hours, 14 minutes and 07 seconds for the 628 nautical mile ocean event that began on a busy Sydney Harbour at 1pm on Boxing Day, December 26.

Naval Group’s start video.

Crewed by employees from Naval Group France and Australia, three representatives from the Royal Australian Navy and five professional sailors from Noakes, including the skipper, the multinational effort delivered a noteworthy first Hobart experience for the majority of the crew in what was largely a warm and straightforward downwind race.

“We got out of Sydney Heads and got past Prospector (USA Mills 68) then they started to plane in the nor’easter and just took off. We had some slowdowns and we broke stuff but it was my easiest Hobart yet. It’s a beautiful boat but it’s not a downwind boat,” Langman said once tied up at a deserted Kings Pier Marina in the early hours of Saturday December 29 eating cold scallop pies as light rain fell.

Ripping their A2 spinnaker on the first afternoon cost the boat performance-wise, however this joint venture was always centered on bringing two cultures together to fulfill an ambition.

“It’s poignant given the 100-year alliance between France and Australia that the crew has come together to not only complete the 628 nautical mile challenge, but to finish 11th across the line from a strong 85-boat fleet,” said Herve Guillou, Naval Group Chairman and CEO, whose last Hobart race was 27 years ago.

“In a limited timeframe the crew joined together to learn about the mission, their role within that mission and how to work together as a team, the same way they will work together to plan and deliver the largest single naval procurement program in Australia’s history, the Australian Future Submarine Program,” said Guillou..

Naval Group was launched in 2008 as an RP65 called Moneypenny and raced overseas under various owners. Langman purchased the boat in 2018 from Newport, Rhode Island, and delivered it to Sydney for minor modifications and to carry out an intense training regime to bring the new crew up to speed for the ultimate annual yachting challenge organised by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in partnership with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania.

As always, Langman’s worked out which end of the hull he needs to take a saw to, to improve boat speed, but given he’s not sure what’s next in the program for Naval Group, the priority is to return the boat safely to Sydney in a few days and resume normal life, including his 18-foot skiff campaign.

Naval Group is Australia’s design and build partner for the Future Submarine Program. Australia’s new future submarines will be known as the Attack class and will be delivered to the Royal Australian Navy in the early 2030s.

The Naval Group crew:

  • Sean Langman, skipper, Noakes
  • Murray Spence, navigator Noakes
  • Josh Alexander, Noakes
  • Shaun McKnight, Noakes
  • Tony Powell, Noakes
  • Rear Admiral Lee Goddard, Royal Australian Navy
  • Lieutenant Ed Bramich, Royal Australian Navy
  • Sub-lieutenant Tori Costello, Royal Australian Navy
  • Herve Guillou, Naval Group
  • Luc Remont, Naval Group
  • Jerome Vol, Naval Group
  • Gaetan Bourdeaux, Naval Group
  • Jean-Francois Lucas, Naval Group
  • Antoine Caillaud, Naval Group
  • Diane Roy, Naval Group Australia
  • Steven Patriarca, Naval Group Australia
  • Tabitha Stevenson, Naval Group Australia
  • Siobhan Byrne, Naval Group Australia
  • James Wilkes, Naval Group Australia

– Lisa Ratcliff

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