by Ian Grant
Friendly Mooloolaba Ocean racing sailors Rod Jones and Rob Lea will become serious rivals when they contest the annual Queensland Cruising Yacht Club Surf to City race over the Southport to Sandgate course on Saturday.
According to the forecast the high standard fleet including the Rod Jones skippered Audi sponsored Alegria V and the Rob Lea helmed Audi Sunshine Coast Young Guns have missed the chance to enjoy a fast spinnaker ride along the ocean beaches of Stradbroke and Moreton Islands.
The Weather bureau have predicted the moderate to fresh Southerly trade winds which peaked at 44 knots last Tuesday to be replaced by slower and softer head wind sailing into Northerly sea breeze.
However this is not expected to alter the match race between the blue water racing debutants manning the deck of the smaller AUDI Sunshine Coast Young Guns and the more experienced Alegria V crew.
Skipper Rob Lea the principal sailing instructor of the Mooloolaba based Sunshine Coast Sailing Academy has trained his young crew of Ocean racing students to be physically and mentally prepared to face a tough grind while the experienced crew racing under the dual Audi Australian championship winning helmsman Rod Jones remain as the combination to beat for IRC handicap honours.
They understand the value from making all the right decisions with the breeze that blows over the deck in their bid to master the match race for overall line honours against the equally impressive Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron sloop the Tam Faragher skippered Kerumba.
Both crews who are listed among the top chances when the similar battle lines are set for honours in the 308 nautical mile Qantaslink Brisbane to Gladstone race over the Easter weekend are expected to share the same sea space when the duel for the first to finish trophy this weekend.
There will be some important sailing notes recorded by the Alegria V sailing team as this race involves the start of a long campaign during 2013 which includes the 628 nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
Besides being faced with the challenge to beat Kerumba skipper Rod Jones and his talented crew will need to prove they are on the pace to finish ahead of the smaller Black Jack Too and the Roland Dane owned and Michael Spies skippered Jessandra 11.
Peter Harburg’s Black Jack crew headed by skipper Mark Bradford winners of the ORC1 division in the Rolex Sydney Hobart race and the 2012 Brisbane to Gladstone blue water classic with the larger maxi chaser Black Jack will be suited to produce a strong performance in the expected forecast including a tough slog against a sea breeze which promises gusts to 18 knots.
Sailing conditions of this nature will also prove to be an ideal education for the ‘rookie’ ocean racers learning the ropes when the Audi Sunshine Coast Young Guns crew endure the experience of racing on the open ocean.