Warren Johns taken during his heyday.Vale gentleman yachtsman Warren Johns

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 in late November.

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 Coast’s dual Audi Australian Ocean racing champion Rod Jones.

Warren Johns celebrated his 78th birthday earlier in November and was a highly respected skipper on the Australian and International yacht racing circuits. He will be sadly missed by his immediate family and many of his personal 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 a boat test which lasted for several seasons before Tim Moore became the official owner.

Heaven Can Wait.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 Queenslanders 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 being part of the Australian Kenwood Cup winning team 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.

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Wallis shows the way

Local Whitsunday sail maker Charles Wallis again proved he was a master of light fickle winds when he steered Reignition to a corrected handicap win in the Whitsunday Sailing Club 2012 progressive point score series on Pioneer Bay.

Wallis regarded by his rivals as a master sailor in all breezes is particularly difficult to match when the wind becomes light and unstable. He again applied the master’s touch to helm Reignition to a narrow six second win over the fleet veteran Surefoot (Rod Sawyer) while Damien Suckling steered Another Fiasco into third.

When the fleet was confronted with the extra concentration test of maintaining a competitive boat speed in the super soft breeze, both the Bernie van’t Hof helmed Swan 45 Tulip and the Murray Burns and Dovell designed 41 Reignition became the most likely contenders for line honours.

However, Tulip which has previously proved to be no slouch when sailing in soft winds exercised her slight advantage in waterline length and sail power gained early control to leave both Reignition and Another Fiasco to settle into a battle to resolve the minor places.

As expected the limit marker Tulip failed to outpace her handicap rating while Wallis and the Reignition crew sailed tactically smart to narrowly record the fastest corrected handicap ahead of the Golden Oldie Surefoot.

According to her proud owner and skipper, Surefoot is an oldie but a goodie and while they had to be happy with second place, there is still many more competitive nautical miles to be enjoyed before the former Papua New Guinea Yacht Club Admiral’s Cup competitor is retired to become a leisurely cruiser.

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Worthy Awards

Exceptionally dedicated sailor Ken Hurling, the hard working President of Yachting Queensland has been recognised for his services to the sport.

There is no doubt about his passion for sailing at all levels of the sport with spending endless hours encouraging first time sailors to be happy while they are ‘learning the ropes’ to sail free with the wind.

Besides presiding over what is regarded as Queensland’s most successful year with Gold Coast skipper Mathew Belcher combining with his New South Wales crew mate Malcolm Page to win the 470 Class Gold Medal during the London Olympic regatta, Ken is also the volunteer President of the Australian Laser Association.

He was exceptionally proud to accept the Solo Trophy for Outstanding Services to sailing in Queensland and was among the first to congratulate Australian Sailing Team’s talented Laser Radial skipper Ashley Stoddart when she won the Jenny VI trophy as Queensland female sailor of the year.

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Kiwi King

Whitsunday Sailing Club Multihull class skipper Rupert King has a complete understanding of how to extract the required handicap rated boat speed from his self-built trimaran Overdrive.

These days Rupert King, a proud New Zealand national, has become acclimatised to living in the tropics after setting off on a cruising adventure over seven years ago.

Overdrive built to the specifications of a cruising trimaran is no lightweight sprint machine, however, her proud owner skipper manages to enjoy his racing in the Edges Boat Yard trophy series on the warm waters of Pioneer Bay.

Skipper Rupert King and crew realised they had their backs to the wall when the ultra-light 6-knot sea breeze hardly raised a ripple on the course to present the skippers and crews with a test of patience and perseverance to sail to their respective handicap ratings.

However, the Haydon Turnbull skippered Why proved to be a light wind sprint machine sailing the three lap course with an unmatched average of 16.33minutes a lap to set up a strong claim on winning the line and corrected handicap double.

Unfortunately the Why crew fell short of their handicap target when the heavier and slower Overdrive clinched top handicap honours by the narrow margin of one second, leaving the crew of Why to wonder why and where they could find another second to outpace their .972 TCF.

The Bernie van’t Hof skippered Swan 45 Tulip continued to maintain her winning edge over line honours rival the Charles Wallis skippered Reignition in the Division 2 mono-class race. They cleverly answered the challenge from all but one of their eleven rivals with the Kevin Fogarty skippered Beneteau 40 Twister completing a cleverly sailed race to record an impressive 2min victory over Tulip while the ever consistent John Galloway helmed Queensland Marine Services filled third.

Meanwhile the Overdrive crew presently hold the class ‘bragging rights’ while their rival crews in Why and Sirocco hold the expectation to lower their colours before the points for the 2012 series are officially declared and the sails are tensioned for the start of the 2013 championship this month.