Rod Jones-owned and skippered Alegria clinches inaugural Audi IRC Australian Championship 24/8/07

The Rod Jones-owned and skippered Archambault 35-designedAlegria, from Mooloolaba in Queensland, has scored a runaway victory in the inaugural Audi IRC Australian Championship in which 160 boats have taken part throughout the year.

The final stage of the four-event series, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week concludes at the Island tomorrow, but Jones and his crew have already done enough to claim the title, the Audi IRC Australian Championship Perpetual Trophy designed by John Woulfe, and best of all, the highly sought after major prize of an Audi Q7 3.6 FSI quattro SUV.

An excited Rod Jones today commented: “This is sensational. The team’s worked really hard. While the car is a great end result, it’s very special to win the Audi IRC Championship, especially as it’s the first one and there’s been such great sponsorship from Audi.

“I don’t think it’s quite sunk in for any of us yet,” he said on being told he had won the sleek black performance SUV from Audi – the Audi Q7 – which retails at around $92,000 ‘with all the trimmings’, one of the biggest prizes on offer at any yachting event in Australia.

In the final tally, Alegria, one of the smallest boats in the IRC Series, has upstaged her better known grand prix racers, including confirmed second placegetter, and also the largest boat to compete, Hamilton Island owner Bob Oatley’s ‘Wild Oats X’, the canting keeled Reichel/Pugh 66 from NSW.

Racing is so close here at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, that third to fifth places for the Championship will not be decided until tomorrow when racing finishes.

Those vying for the minor placings include current Audi Hamilton Island Race Week leaderYendys, a Reichel/Pugh 55 owned by Geoff Ross, Steven David’s Reichel/Pugh 60Wild Joeand Ray Roberts’ Cookson 50,Quantum Racing. All are from NSW.

To be eligible for the Audi IRC Australian Championship, which is endorsed by Yachting Australia, yachts must hold a valid IRC Rating Certificate and enter at least three of the four events that make up the Championship; the Audi IRC Series at Skandia Geelong Week held in January each year, the Audi Sydney Harbour Regatta, sailed in March, Audi Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race in July and finally Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in August.

Following today’s Races 7 and 8 at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week,Yendysis currently on equal pointsWild Oats X, butYendysleads on countback with more wins in place. The winner will be decided in tomorrow’s final race.

The record 217 entries compete in the UBS South Molle/Daydream Island Race on Saturday 25 August, an approximately 23.3 nautical mile race on one of the most scenic courses around the Island.

One hundred and sixty yachts competed in the Audi IRC Australian Championship series throughout the year.