Offshore Yachting : October November 2007
offshore | 69 success with his former boat, the A40 Cabernet Sauvignon, now based in Newcastle and also a contender for the Championship. As the Queensland agent for Archambault, Jones obviously knows the product well. On being announced the winner, Jones responded: "The team's worked really hard. It's very special to win the Audi IRC Championship, especially as it's the first one." In the final analysis, Alegria, at 10.6 metres and one of the smallest boats vying for the series upstaged her better known and bigger grand prix racers, including second placegetter, Bob Oatley's 66 foot canting keeled Wild Oats X from Sydney, the largest boat to compete. Next best was the 60 foot canting keeled Wild Joe (Steven David), then the new Reichel/Pugh 55 Yendys (Geoff Ross) fourth and Ray Robert's Quantum Racing (a Cookson 50) fifth; all from NSW and amongst the best racing yachts in Australia. A complex pointscore (which a number of entrants have questioned) will undoubtedly be revised, but it does not take away from crew Jones and Alegria's performance, although he did concede: "The Championship did favour the smaller yachts this time round." The smaller yachts he refers to were amongst those who sold boats midway through the series, some were only able to contest two of the events, so fell by the wayside. Although relatively unknown on the offshore circuit, Jones' sailing career spans the Flying Dutchman, Etchells and Tornado classes. He was also Head Coach to the 1996 Fijian Olympic squad. His father instigated youth sailing in Melbourne where Jones grew up, so sailing came as a matter of course. "I grew up sailing offshore, but moved to one design racing, which I would like to do more of. I plan to play in offshore racing for the next couple of years though; I find it very enjoyable and challenging. It has different skills than what I'm used to." Jones has a number of tentative future plans. He has a new A40 Racer Cruiser on the way. "I don't think it will be ready for Geelong, but I hope it arrives in time for the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta, as we want to defend our title. Alegria has gone to a new home in Newcastle." Other targets include the Brisbane Gladstone and Great Keppel Island races, with plans afoot to move into the Asian circuit. "I'm also keen to instigate a team for the Commodore's Cup in England next year, but it's all a bit nebulous at the moment. "Since IRC really has legs right now, it would be great to have an Aussie team at such a prestigious event. Since the demise of the Admiral's Cup, I see it as the standout event and I don't think it will be too difficult to get a team together." Although he is a keen offshore yachtsman, Jones can't see himself competing in the toughest of ocean races, the Rolex Sydney-Hobart. "I did one in around 1979, but my theory these days is: "if it takes more than one dinner to get there, then I'm not going." Deep down, I have an ambition to do it again; probably in the next five years before I'm too old." Back on the Audi IRC Championship, the Queenslander contends that professionalism and a long-serving crew prepared to train and put in the hard yards deserves any wins that come their way. "We took the Championship very seriously, entering all four events and we trained hard to win. I have my crew to thank, I did not win this thing on my own," he reminds me. The Audi IRC Australian Championship, endorsed by Yachting Australia, comprised the Audi IRC Series at Skandia Geelong Week held in January, the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta in March, Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race in July and Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August. To be eligible, yachts must hold a valid IRC Rating Certificate and enter at least three of the four events. A massive 160 yachts contested the inaugural Championship.O LEFT: IRC champion skipper Rod Jones aboard Alegria. BELOW: The crew and the car.
December January 2008