by Ian Grant
Dual Audi Australian Ocean yacht racing champion Rod Jones is under no illusions about his prospects of recording a top result in the 308 n/ml QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone race over the Easter Weekend.
Joan Jones and Scott Carse christening Alegria V
'Hugh Welbourn has designed a sweet hull; she is great fun to sail in pressure, however being a 2000 design we are a bit heavier than the new TP 52’s'.
'Fortunately we will have a lower rating to help compensate for the age of the boat and the weight'.
'We are working towards a new ‘learning curve’ and hopefully we will be competitive'. Rod Jones said.
Most of his experienced team who were on deck when skipper Rod Jones surprised his more fancied interstate rivals to win the prestigious national championships with the smaller European Archambault built yachts Alegria lll and Alegria IV have the proven potential to record another surprise result with the Audi Centre Sunshine Coast sponsored Alegria V.
The tactically demanding Brisbane to Gladstone Race forms an important re-introduction to offshore yacht racing with the Sunshine Coast crew starting an impressive campaign to eventually represent the Maroochy River Sailing Club in the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart with the now modernised and former yesteryear champion Heaven Can Wait.
This impressively fast 15.4 m sloop designed by Hugh Welbourn already has beaten the best winning the Hamilton Island Race Week and line honours in the Brisbane to Gladstone under previous owner/skippers Warren Johns and Peter Hollis.
As expected the former champion has taken on a radically different profile to shape of the hull and rig but the crew who have proven their class in racing smaller yachts have fallen short of the important pre-race training sessions off Mooloolaba.
They were put to the test in a gusty 30 knot breeze last weekend but unfortunately an expensive blow-out that left the mainsail in tatters forced a dramatic end to what was planned to be an extensive sail evaluation trial.
'Fortunately we have a new mainsail and asymmetric spinnaker on order with local sail makers Bucky and Yancy Smith of Doyle Sails'.
'Our goal is to get to Gladstone safely while having some fun as we learn and improve with the understanding of racing on a larger and more demanding yacht'. Rod Jones said.
They have a well documented history of producing an aggressive racing style and while the crew are short of ‘match practice’ the new look older generation champion promises to finish in the top five behind the match racing maxi’s including the 2004 race record breaker Wild Thing (Grant Wharington) and the 2011 line honours champion Lahana (Peter Millard).