by Ian Grant
The 64th edition of the QantasLink Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race will commence at 1100hours on Good Froiday, 6 April 2012.
Rod Jones - keeps his head out of the boat in winning style
Personal experience accrued from winning two Audi Australian Ocean racing championships have contributed to the creditability of Rod Jones being accepted as a good judge of fast sailing yachts.
Normally the master Sunshine Coast yachtsman has been faced with an accepted task of cleaning the builders dust and race tuning a new production built yacht.
Thankfully in recent months that has not been the case as he has placed his faith, experience and ocean racing budget in providing a re-introduction to the ‘blue water set’ for the tried and tested older generation yacht Heaven Can Wait.
In her heyday the Hugh Welbourn designed 15.4m Heaven Can Wait launched in 2000 was raced by original owner Warren Johns of Sydney to win recognition as the best in the class on the International circuit while also winning a Grand Prix class trophy at the Hamilton Island Race Week.
Six years ago Heaven Can Wait added the Brisbane to Gladstone line honours trophy to her impressive log book when she was owned by former dual World Contender champion Peter Hollis of Brisbane.
Following a refit in a Mooloolah River boat yard and some short crew training sessions the new look and renamed sloop will test her speed under the Audi A5 / Alegria V battle flag during the 308n/ml Brisbane to Gladstone race over the Easter weekend.
The now sleeker looking ocean racer will test her pace against a very competitive fleet which includes previous Gladstone Race line honours champions Lahana, Black Jack and the present record holder Grant Wharington’s super maxi Wild Thing.
Size and sail area advantage favours this trio of larger rivals to set the pace while skipper Rod Jones and his high performance crew face a challenging learning curve to follow the wake of the slightly larger Royal Geelong Yacht Club TP 52 Shogun V now rated as the favourite to win the 64 year old Courier Mail Cup.
The Robert Hanna owned and skippered Shogun V has not made the long trip from her home port in Geelong’s Corio Bay to allow her crew to experience what promises to be a coastal sprint race in warmer waters.
They have the form guide and intention of becoming the first Victorian crew to win Queensland’s premier blue water classic.
This is no idle boast as the Shogun V crew scored a short course championship win over the 2011 Gladstone Race champion Hooligan and the weather forecast of moderate to fresh spinnaker sailing trade winds are expected to show that the Victorian crew will be on the pace to chase the larger yachts Wild Thing, Lahana and Black Jack when the fleet sail on a fast pace past the Sunshine Coast on Good Friday afternoon.
The ideal forecast and associated three metre ocean swell will also provide the champion team of Sunshine Coast sailors to also experience a fast spray drenching sail in what promises to become another exciting chapter in the log book of this impressive blue water racing champion.