07 February 2023
In June, Sean Langman and his crew will head to the UK for the 50th Rolex Fastnet Race, joining their yacht, Maluka which will be sent ahead of them in March.
“It never was a ‘bucket list’ event,” Sean acknowledges. “There are so many races for us to enjoy at home. But last year, on holiday in the UK, I saw so many lovely locations that I thought would be nice to sail, so I decided to take Maluka and show her to the world.”
Maluka is a 30-foot, gaff-rigged, Ranger design timber yacht, the oldest and smallest yacht in the 2022 Rolex Sydney Hobart fleet, sailed by Sean’s son, Peter to a win in Division 5, much to the delight of his proud dad.
Sean, helming Moneypenny, won Division 0 and was also confirmed as champion of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s prestigious 2022/23 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore.
Sean bought the classic yacht Maluka in 2005, when he found her “in a bit of a mess” and recognised in her the same sleek lines and solid construction as his own Sydney Ranger, the 24-foot Vagrant.
“It’s by the same designer, Cliff Gale, who was a brilliant yachtsman and an intuitive designer, working with the naval architect, Arthur Barber, and built by Billy Fisher in 1932. It was owned for many years by the Clark brothers who raced her on Sydney Harbour, and made several voyages to North Queensland and Lord Howe Island, as well as famously sailing Sydney to Hobart 10 years prior to the first race.”
In 2006, Sean spent nine months rebuilding Maluka (an indigenous word for “affection” or “boss”) and then entered her into the 2006 Rolex Sydney Hobart yacht race, where she finished an impressive 10th on IRC handicap.
Sean has competed in 32 Sydney Hobarts, and says “it feels like sailing home to me. I love it!”
Prior to the 2022 race, Sean says he hatched the plan to take on the Fastnet. “The 2022 Hobart would be hard to surpass. Pete and I were looking for new challenges.”
He pitched the proposal to his regular crew, whom he thought would dismiss his scheme as “lunatic fringe”, but they were all in.
Josh Alexander, Peter Inchbold and Gordon Maguire have all competed in the Fastnet, as well as dozens of Sydney Hobarts among them. Sean’s son, Peter will also be on board.
“We all know the boat well. She’s gaff-rigged like Jolie Brise, the winner of the first Fastnet in 1925. The others know the race and the conditions. There’s a lot of current, but we’re fit and well prepared.
“If we get the right conditions, the right time of day, and a little bit of luck, I’m confident we’ll sail around a rock, down a channel and end up in a nice location,” says Sean, laconically.
Setting sail from Cowes on Saturday 22 July 2023, the 50th edition of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s Rolex Fastnet Race will finish in Cherbourg-en-Cotentin via a 695 nautical mile course via the Fastnet Rock at the southern tip of Ireland for which the event is named.
Along with the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race and the Newport-Bermuda Race, the Fastnet Race is considered one of the classic big offshore races with each distance approximately 695 nautical miles (800 miles; 1,287 km).
“I’m really looking forward to it,” says Sean. “Pete and I haven’t been sailing together for quite a while. It will be a real thrill to take on the Fastnet together.”