LOVE OF WATER: Left, Olympic 49er gold medallist Iain Jensen, chief sailing instructor Graham Oborn, Paralympics dual silver medallist Taylor Corry and Soldiers Point marina manager Darrell Barnett. FAST: The record-setting Vestas Sailrocket
SOME 34 years after Novocastrian Ken Warby set the world water speed record of 317.60milesperhour (511.13km/h) aboard his home-built Spirit of Australia, England-based Aussie Paul Larsen has just recorded a 59.23-knot blast in a machine called the Vestas Sailrocket.
It means Australia now holds both the world sailing and powerboat speed records.
Sailing over a 500-metre course off the coast of Namibia, with only Larsen aboard, the spindly vessel smashed the existing world record by more than three knots.
Top speed during the timed run was 62.53 knots – the fastest anyone has ever been under sail, if you don’t count that guy in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
“It’s not an easy run to do on a course that is only one nautical mile long,” Larsen said. “I have to wind the boat up in rough water and launch it back into rough water at full pelt at the end. Bloody interesting sailing in a boat specifically designed for flatter water.”
Despite being on the edge of control, Larsen reckons he still had time to look around and enjoy the sensation that this awesome vessel delivers.
Meanwhile, my spies tell me that Warby’s son is lining up for a crack at the record in a new boat, with the midnight oil being burned in a certain garage in Merewether. But that’s another story.
Sailing for life
THE old line “here’s one we prepared earlier” sprang to mind when Olympic 49er gold medallist Iain Jensen and Paralympics dual silver medallist Taylor Corry met students from Tomaree High and St Philips Christian College at Port Stephens, who are doing sailing as part of their weekly school sport.
The duo spoke about their Olympic experience and their lives and achievements leading up to that point at a cocktail party at Soldiers Point Marina last week.
Lots of questions were fired at them from the kids completing their Basic Skills 1 course, which is accredited by Yachting Australia.
The marina hosts the course at no cost to the school and so far over 30 students have achieved the certificate.
Port Stephens mayor Bruce McKenzie was among the 100 guests, along with Real Futures Foundation sponsors.
Four encouragement awards were presented to young sailors who are now moving towards achieving their Basic Skills 2 certificate.
“Our sailing instructors foster and encourage confidence and a love of sailing and the water for our young people,” marina general manager Darrell Barnett said.
“Sailing builds a sense of adventure, a strong mental ability, and confidence – all the skills needed for life.”
Beneteau First 40 champs
THEY’VE notched IRC victories in the Sydney Hobart, Spi Ouest, Cowes Week and Voiles de Saint-Tropez, and now the Beneteau First 40 class is holding its inaugural national championships this weekend at Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Sydney.
It will provide another opportunity for owners to confirm the racing prowess of this marque ahead of the 2012 Sydney-Hobart.
Among the leading contenders will be Robbo Robertson’s Lunchtime Legend, John Griffin’s Benny and the Jets, Phil Dash and Just a Dash, and Howard Piggott with Flying Cloud.
Beneteau First product manager Eric Ingouf has flown from France to serve as event commodore.
“Performance cruising is the basis for the development of the First range. Using this as our development platform, we then incorporate the latest technology and racing enhancements to ensure our First range is at the forefront of ocean racing around the globe,” he said.
Preceding the championships, the 12th annual Vicsail Beneteau Cup takes place today, with a record 30 yachts hitting the start line.
Climate warming tax
FINALLY, what’s worse for global warming: a boat fire spewing heat and fumes into the atmosphere or the hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) contained in certain fire extinguishers?
Some marine fire protection systems are now subject to a carbon tax on their global warming potential, increasing costs for Australian boatbuilders and those exporting here.
US manufacturer Sea-Fire says a 15kilogram fire suppression system using such agents would incur about $1000 to $4000 in taxes.
The company hastens to add that its Novec 1230 Fire Protection Fluid is not subject to the tax, being a “highly environmentally-responsible fire suppression choice”.
“As this new Australian legislation clearly shows, more and more countries are using GWP as a measure of environmentally sound products. It’s a serious issue, and the penalties are heavy for those continuing to use these targeted HFCs,” Ernie Ellis, the Sea-Fire president, said.