Trans-Tasman battle of the ORMA60s
New Zealand's fastest sailing boat, TeamVodafoneSailing, has arrived in Australia primed for a clash of the titans.
Simon Hull's red and white Orma trimaran is berthed at Airlie Beach in Queensland after sailing in from New Caledonia, fresh from carving 20 hours off the Auckland-Noumea Race multihull record.
TeamVodafone's next challenge is to go head-to-head with sister Orma60, Team Australia, owned and raced by Sean Langman. The two quickest sailboats in the Southern Hemisphere will meet in their first race series at the Airlie Beach Race Week starting August 10.
Both boats boast impressive resumes going into the clash. Team Australia proved to be the fastest racing yacht across the ditch in April, taking more than two hours off the Brisbane to Gladstone race record. In a former incarnation as Banque Populaire, she held the world 24-hour speed record of 667 nautical miles, and was sailed by both Oracle and Alinghi in the lead-up to the last America's Cup.
Unbeaten in New Zealand, TeamVodafone was formerly known as Geant, winning both the Route du Rhum and Transat races with French multihull legend Michel Desjoyeaux.
Hull is champing at the bit to race TeamVodafone at Airlie Beach for a second year, and this time with fierce competition.
"We've lined up together just once before, in an unofficial Sydney-Southport race just between the two boats last year. Sean had only just got the boat into the country and they were very much on a steep learning curve, so we cleaned them up pretty convincingly. But her new Brisbane to Gladstone record showed he's got it pretty sorted," Hull says.
"We've both proven we are much faster than the fastest 100 foot monohulls, like Sydney-Hobart winner Wild Oats XI, and we've both been setting records.
"Last year [at Airlie Beach] we weren't hitting the start line at 24 knots as we could have. We'd been slowing down to the speed of the rest of the fleet then finding the gap and putting our foot to the floor. It will be a little bit different having Sean there. We'll both be pushing it harder."
Hull predicts a big multihull presence at Airlie Beach this year, expecting 20 on the startline.
Langman hopes to have an edge over his Kiwi counterpart, with Team Australia being fitted with new foils for the event.