by Ian Grant
Champion Sunshine Coast sailor Rod Jones, the only skipper to win two Audi Australian IRC championships, faces a supreme test of his personal skill in three major events culminating with the Laser SB3 World championship in England from May 16-20.
Jones has teamed up with former Australian Olympic Laser and seven times World championship Gold Medallist Glenn Bourke of Hamilton Island and specialist Mooloolaba sailor Greg McAllansmith in a bid to win the Audi Australian SB3 championship at Port Stephens on April 15-17.
Just five days later on Good Friday (April 22) both skipper Jones and the burley Greg McAllansmith will then change into their ocean racing wet weather gear to contest the 308 n/ml Brisbane to Gladstone blue water classic with the high performance Alegria.
The Club Marine Blue crew will then have 20 days to complete their training for the 2011 Laser SB3 World series on the historically famed Royal Torbay Yacht Club courses.
It is a busy schedule however every second of racing will help to refine their technique and tactical strategy in preparation for the World title challenge against a fleet of 123 crews representing 12 countries.
The world championship regatta promises to test their combined crew skills to find a marginal edge in boat speed to compete at the front of the fleet against the top English crews who have dominated with Geoff Carveth winning the inaugural series in 2008 while Craig Burlton won in 2009 with Jerry Hill and his 3 Sad old blokes crew completing the gold medal treble last year.
Beating the Brits on their home waters represents a tough task but the Queensland crew have the collective experience to be regarded among the top ten challengers.
The strict class rules and the clone nature of the Laser SB3 design provides every crew with an equal chance with the eventual result determined by the crew who make the least human element related errors in strategy and boat handling.
As expected Glenn Bourke, Rod Jones and Greg McAllansmith remain optimistic but like all of their rivals including the defending champion Jerry Hill will need to produce a super human performance to be presented with the Gold Medal after the final race on May 20th.
Interest will also focus on the results achieved by the Audi Sunshine Girls crew of skipper Lauren Calder, Ali Blundell, Razz Smith and Julie Grantham.
This all female crew remain unfazed with testing their skill, endurance and tactical strategy in a series that is dominated by a number of the World’s best including Olympians and World champions.
'Sure it’s a bloke’s domain but we are not in there to make up the numbers, our plan is to gain valuable big fleet experience in preparation for the World Series at Hamilton Island in December 2012' Lauren Calder said.