Warren Jones, the man who fought - and beat - the mighty New York Yacht Club on the way to winning the America's Cup, has died in Perth at the age of 65.
Western Australian Premier Geoff Gallop says Mr Jones was an extraordinary man. "There's no doubt that Warren Jones will be sadly missed, and on behalf of the West Australian Government and the people I pass on my condolences to Warren Jones' family and his many friends in Western Australia," he said.
"Others would have remembered Warren from his interests in business and in sport, but I remember him for his passionate commitment to the Fremantle Hospital and in particular the development of a children's ward at that hospital."
Australia II skipper John Bertrand said on radio that Mr Jones relished the battle with the NYYC heirarchy and played a major role in having the winged-keeled 12-Metre cleared to race the conventional, and slower, Liberty.
Jones was the syndicate chief 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 in 1983. 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."
ISAF expresses its condolences to the family of Warren Jones.