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sail-world.com -- Rod Jones faces Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race challenge

Rod Jones faces Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race challenge    
Wed, 20 Feb 2013

Sunshine Coast’s Audi A5 Alegria V skippered by dual Australian IRC champion Rod Jones will face a searching challenge when they contest the 416 nautical mile Hempel Gosford to Lord Howe Island Race next month.

This classic blue water event set to race across the storm tormented Tasman Sea to Lord Howe Island is recognised as a qualifying event for the more demanding 628 n/ ml Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

Both skipper Rod Jones and his experienced crew have already listed the Rolex Sydney Hobart race as a priority in the racing calendar for 2013 with the race to Lord Howe becoming the most serious and longest ocean race to be recorded in their personal log books.

The race previously scheduled in October has been bought forward to coincide with The Discovery Day celebrations.

Interestingly yacht racing on the Tasman Sea always presents a test of endurance and tactical strategy with the crews generally challenged with an unstable weather system.

However the A5 Alegria V crew who have the valued experience of successfully racing in the shorter distance costal passage races off the Australian coat including the Audi Sydney to Gold Coast and the Qantas Brisbane to Gladstone blue water classics have the collective results and experience to achieve a major result.

Their tactical strategy will involve some intense forward planning in regard to the sailing conditions on the open ocean where the wind direction and velocity can become unstable and unpredictable particularly if the tropical monsoon continues to remain active during March.

No doubt there will be some hidden and unexpected challenges however they have the collective experience to make the required changes to A5 Alegria V racing on a fast track towards the finish line set off Lord Howe Island Lagoon.

Meanwhile the delivery crew remain on weather watch to select a favourable coastal system to complete the voyage from Mooloolaba to Terrigal to allow sufficient time to prepare for what represents an important Rolex Sydney Hobart race trial.

The nasty low depression system which dumped torrential rain and spun the wind recorders located at Double Island Point and Cape Moreton to a peak of 51 knots became a dramatic reminder to all crews who are planning a coastal voyage at this time of the year.

That boisterous system has headed south leaving a rough sea state in its path hopefully there will not be a repeat strong wind and rough sea waring when the crew of Sunshine Coast sailors set their course for Lord Howe Island next month.

They have collectively contributed to an impressive ocean racing record including two Audi Australian IRC championships but success in this race over 416 nautical miles over an unfamiliar course represents a marathon challenge.

by Ian Grant



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