by Ian Grant
Dual Australian IRC championship winning Sunshine Coast skipper Rod Jones and his highly talented A5 Alegria V Ocean racing crew have listed the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race as their major challenge for the 2013 Australian blue water racing season.
Alegria V Audi is ready
Jones not unlike many other yacht owners has always had the personal passion to test his skill in the gruelling 628 nautical mile race to Hobart and considered the race as unfinished business when his crew of Sunshine Coast sailors won the prestigious Audi National championship trophy in yachts believed to be too small to race on the storm tormented Tasman Sea.
His search for a likely Hobart race challenger ended with the purchase and subsequent speed sailing re-vamp of the Hugh Welbourn designed Heaven Can Wait which gained the distinction of being a top performer on the International open 50 regatta circuit besides winning the Grand Prix class trophy at Hamilton Island Race Week when helmed by her original owner Warren Johns.
The proven pedigree of Heaven Can Wait has since been ‘tweaked’ with a power sailing new rig configuration which was put to the test during the Surf to City (Gold Coast to Sandgate) race when the crew handled a physically demanding headwind sailing test to win the line honours trophy.
They have successfully mastered the required crew technique to race the larger and more powerful sloop and their results including winning the best in the Nation titles twice suggests the A5 Alegria V crew will be boat prepared to face a busy offshore racing challenge next month which includes the XXXX Queensland IRC class championship over the Southport Yacht Club courses on the 15th-17th March followed by the 308n/ml Qantaslink Brisbane to Gladstone blue water classic starting on Good Friday March 29th.
However the entry list for the important Southport Yacht Club hosted Queensland championship and the Queensland Cruising Yachts Club’s Brisbane to Gladstone race promises to provide the Sunshine Coast crew with a supreme test of tactical racing particularly against the strong group of match racing Farr 40’s including Bribie Star and Keel Train skippered by experienced Sunshine Coast helmsmen Ken Down and Greg Torpy.
Down who has the career distinction of being a member of an Australian Admirals Cup winning team held the edge over Torpy to win the class Queensland championship during a windy weekend in October.
But Torpy a former Etchells World championship winning crew and Australian Olympian nominated as the sailing master with a young crew of Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron sailors on Keel Train believes his crew is not far away from creating a tactical headache for the more experienced rivals.
They terminated some sails during the torrid Queensland Farr 40 series which ultimately damaged their point score however according to their mentor the enthusiastic Keel Train crew will be ready to engage the more favoured A5 Alegria V and Bribie Star when the battle lines are drawn for class honours in the 308 n/ml Brisbane to Gladstone Race over the Easter Weekend.