by Ian Grant
Sadly, the ever popular Sydney yachtsman Warren Johns, who affectionately regarded the ports of Mooloolaba and Hamilton Island among his favourite sailing destinations, passed away last week.
After surviving a quadruple bypass, Warren Johns raced on the International circuit with the high performance sloop Heaven Can Wait now owned and raced by the Sunshine Coasts dual Audi Australian Ocean racing champion Rod Jones.
Warren Johns celebrated his 78th birthday earlier this month and was a highly respected skipper on the Australian and International yacht racing circuits will be sadly missed by his many friends including former Mooloolaba Yacht Club Commodore Tim Moore.
The benevolent Warren Johns owned the small sloop Spring Loaded which he regarded as a spare yacht ‘on his books’ and set up a Gentleman’s agreement for Tim Moore to race her at Mooloolaba where they happily agreed to set up a boat test which lasted for several seasons before Tim Moore became the official owner.
Warren Johns was accepted as a father figure in the sport and always attracted a talented crew to race on his yachts Beyond Thunderdome and Heaven Can Wait.
Strange as it may seem he was not a strong advocate of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race electing to point the bow of his sloops on a race course towards warmer climate destinations including Mooloolaba.
He was a past winner of the Sydney to Mooloolaba race, the Hamilton Island and Hayman Island race week trophies.
In a friendly interview at Hamilton Island in 1994, a proud Warren Johns said. I have made many friends both socially and competitively on the International circuit but I have made what I regard as a Tropical choice to only race where it is possible for palm trees to grow along the shore line.
For some time he and his wife Joan became resident Queenslander’s when they bought the former home of Hamilton Island founder Keith Williams.
As expected the palatial residence became the home for his crew during Race Week.
The warm and friendly nature of Warren Johns supported by his ever loving wife Joan became known as the gentleman ‘Yachtie’ and deserved the career honour of winning an Australian Yachtsman Of The Year award among many other championship trophies including the Kenwood Cup in Hawaii.
However he always valued the opportunity to spend the time with his many Australian sailing mates and will be sadly missed while his weather worn deck shoes will be difficult to fill.
Thankfully the legacy of Warren Johns will continue to sail on with Rod Jones and his Audi A5 Heaven Can Wait sailing team having plans in place to be on the start line for the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
Meanwhile the highly qualified crew will continue to refine their understanding of sailing Heaven Can Wait while her proud original owner will ride along in heavenly spirit.