by Ian Grant
Both wet and significantly windy weather are expected to prevail when launching celebrations for the re-vamped Audi Centre Sunshine Coast sponsored Alegria V are held on the Mooloolah River this Saturday.
Alegria IV - Club Marine Brisbane to Keppel Tropical Yacht Race
Owner skipper Rod Jones has gambled on a tried and tested Bruce Farr designed former International champion 50 class ocean racer Heaven Can Wait for a personal challenge on Australia’s major blue water classics including the Rolex Sydney Hobart and the Brisbane Gladstone Race.
Under her original owner the popular Middle Harbour Yacht Club skipper Warren Johns the sloop showed her class winning major class regattas in Europe and taking line honours with former World Contender champion Peter Hollis at the helm in the 2006 Brisbane Gladstone Race.
All of the well proven speed potential has taken on a totally new prospective with Rod Jones winner of two AUDI Australian offshore championships with smaller yachts expected to inject a competitive challenge when the re-vamped Alegria V competes in the Queensland Cruising Yacht Clubs Surf to City race in mid-January.
Meanwhile his core crew of champion sailors including World Etchells champion Bucky Smith, talented navigator James Walker, Beijing Australian Olympic team coach Adrian Finglas, and the highly skilled Gregor McAllansmith and Sean O’Rourke have the proven combined skills to honour the expense of injecting a modern rig into the older generation ocean racer.
This decision has become the result of intensive consultation with designers, riggers and sail makers and has promoted some interesting conversations around the Australian ocean racing scene particularly in her former home port of Sydney.
As expected Rod Jones and the high performance OceanBuro sailing squad who have the distinction of already displaying two Audi Australian Ocean Racing championship trophies and a fourth place at the 2011 SB3 World championship in the trophy locker have created a lot of interest with this latest project.
Alegria IV owner and skipper, Rod Jones
But while the entire computer based predictions suggest the speed sailing modifications to Heaven Can Wait have theoretically introduced a promising new career it will be up to the crew to place the results on the board.
There is no doubt that both skipper Rod Jones and his experienced crew are looking forward to test the ‘sail-fast’ modifications in the maiden race in mid-January.
'All of the work in the boatshed is complete and following the launching it will be down to the business of crew training'. Rod Jones said.
Transforming the yesteryear champion to race competitively against the more modern designs will continue to create a lot of interest considering the results already achieved by the Sunshine Coast crew who are now respected among Australia’s best blue water sailing combinations.
They were relatively unknown before winning their first regatta during the 2007 Geelong Race Week on Victoria’s Corio Bay in late January but their image progressively changed when skipper Rod Jones and crew were presented with first of two prestigious Australian Championship trophies at Hamilton Island Race Week in August that year.
I guess it is a case of watching this space.