America's Cup legend dies

Warren Jones of Australia II fame passes away

Saturday May 18th 2002, Author: Nigel Cherrie, Location: Australasia
Warren Jones, an instrumental figure in the breaking of one of the longest winning streaks in sporting history, has died aged 65.

Jones was the campaign director for Alan Bond's victorious Australian syndicate that wrested the America's Cup trophy from its 132 year home in the New York Yacht Club. He suffered a stroke four weeks ago and passed away in the Royal Perth Hospital yesterday.

After a cliffhanger contest, John Bertrand and the Australia II crew came from behind in the final race of the 1983 series at Newport, Rhode Island, to beat the American yacht Liberty, skippered by Dennis Conner, by four races to three.

Bertrand paid tribute to Jones' achievements in managing a campaign that changed the face of the America's Cup forever. "Warren was instrumental in the America's Cup win in that he brought so much knowledge and focus to the table, it was his third America's Cup challenge," said Bertrand. "He was highly intelligent and he loved testing himself and maneuvering against the New York Yacht Club [N.Y.Y.C.] which was, as it turns out, fundamental in all the land shenanigans at the time."

"The New York Yacht Club was trying to disqualify us at the time because of the winged keel design and various other factors. Warren went head-to-head [with the N.Y.Y.C.] and allowed myself and my team to get on with the racing on the water," continued Bertrand, referring to the Americans attempts to outlaw the winged keel on the Royal Perth Yacht Club 12 meter.

Life long friend and Australia II crewman John Longley said, "Warren personified what the Australian team was all about. He was tough, he was ruthless and he was interested in one result. Alan Bond would not have won the America's Cup without Warren.

"He was the glue, the link that pulled us together and didn't let us fail on the way. If you were going to war with a man, go to war with Warren."

Jones was the driving force in ensuring Australia II made it to Cowes last year for the America's Cup Jubilee regatta. He rallied her original crew and support team to bring her back up to racing order after she spent 12 years on display in Sydney's National Maritime Museum.

But Jones' legacy was not just to yachting, most of his home nation stayed up, transfixed and willing on Australia II in the deciding 1983 Cup match. "The victory of the Ben Lexen designed winged-keel Australian yacht over Dennis Conner's Liberty in 1983 had an enormous impact on the sport of yachting," Jones said later. "It had perhaps an even greater impact on the Australian nation. The Cup win bonded Australians in a way that no other sporting event ever had, or has since."

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