25 May 2018

Preview of the 2018 Quarter Ton Cup

Press Release: 24 May 2018 – Cowes, UK 

The fourteenth edition of the revival Quarter Ton Cup looks set to produce one of the closest battles seen to date in a class which is famed for its close competition. With three days of inshore racing on the Solent from 20 to 22 June, some 25 boats are expected to challenge for this year’s honours.
The Quarter Ton fleet during the Vice Admiral's Cup (all photos from the 1/4 ton zeilers Facebook page/Tom Hicks and Rick Tomlinson)
The fleet will be based at Cowes Yacht Haven with the race office located in the Haven’s Solent Room and the apr├Ęs sailing social events, which include a BBQ and the traditional Quarter Ton Cup Prize Giving Dinner, being held in the Haven Event Centre. Racing will be located on the Solent using predominantly windward/leeward courses.
Close racing amongst the Quarter Ton fleet in the 2018 Vice Admiral's Cup 
The fleet got a taste of the competition to come at the recent Vice Admiral’s Cup Regatta where the Quarter Ton racing was so close that there was a three-way tie for first place between Sam Laidlaw’s Aguila, Louise Morton’s Bullet and Catrina Southworth’s Whiskers, helmed by Ian Southworth (see results below). On that occasion Aguila claimed overall victory on count back thanks to her three first places, but the gauntlet has been thrown down and we can expect Whiskers and Bullet to be seeking revenge at the Quarter Ton Cup.
Aguila, winner of the 2018 Vice Admiral's Cup
This will be the first Quarter Ton Cup in 12 years not sponsored by Coutts, whose most generous support helped the class develop from a small group of friends sailing tired old boats to an enthusiastic fleet of beautifully restored historic yachts which produce some of the most competitive racing you could hope to find.
Bullet, second in the 2018 Vice Admiral's Cup
“A twelve-year partnership with any sponsor is an extraordinary achievement and we can’t thank Coutts enough for all they have done. But all good things must come to an end and we are now seeking new commercial partners. We can offer an excellent tailored benefits package and would be delighted to speak with any companies interesting in working with us” noted Class Secretary Louise Morton.
Whiskers, third overall int he 2018 Vice Admiral's Cup, seen here leading Belinda on a light downwind leg
For further information about this event including the Notice of Race and Entry Form please visit www.quartertoncup.org. Members of the Press wishing to attend the event should contact Quarter Ton Cup Press Officer Fiona Brown on fiona.brown@fionabrown.com.
Illegal Immigrant - 7th overall in the 2018 Vice Admiral's Cup



5 May 2018

Smir-Noff-Agen - The Rebuild (Part 2)

Here are some recent photos from the re-build of the Farr One Ton centreboarder, Smir-Noff-Agen. As readers may recall from a previous article, Smir-Noff-Agen was found in a parlous state in Australia in mid-2016, and has been shipped to Dubai where she is in the process of being upgraded to have a second life as a modern IRC race yacht.  Her wooden hull has been saved, and she is due for relaunch in September this year. She will be re-named Oro Nero, and will feature a black and gold colour scheme. 













9 April 2018

Retaliation (Frers 51)

Retaliation in the 1982 SORC (photo Leutweiler/Seahorse)
Continuing the recent theme of the early IOR 50 footers, the feature for this article is the Frers 50 footer Retaliation, which was skippered by Dennis Conner to overall victory in the 1982 SORC. Like Margaret Rintoul III from the previous article, Retaliation was another development of Frers' earlier Blizzard, but with slightly less fullness in the stern.  

Retaliation was later sold to Swedish yachtsman Victor Forss. She was re-named Carat and went on to compete in the 1982 Sardinia Cup. However, despite her impressive performance in that year's SORC, she was disappointing in Sardinia, finishing a lowly 46th, struggling to save her time in the generally light airs against lower rated boats. She showed some of her earlier form, however, in the 1983 SORC when she finished as top boat in Class B, and 22nd overall.
Retaliation - above and below, on her way to winning the 1982 SORC

Carat was also selected for the Swedish team for the 1983 Admiral's Cup, alongside another Frers 51, Bla Carat, the ex-Acadia, winner of the 1978 SORC and which had finished second in Class B in the 1983 SORC. The third member of the Swedish team was the Norlin 42, Paper Tiger. Carat was one of three 40.0ft IOR "maxi-raters" in the 1983 Admiral's Cup, alongside Ireland's Moonduster, another Frers 51 footer and Bla Carat.
Carat before the 1983 Admiral's Cup
Carat had another disappointing regatta, as did the whole of the Swedish team, finishing in 32nd place (with redress points awarded for an incident in the second race). After two average places in the breezier first two races (23/21), Carat slumped to last place in the wind-less Channel Race, and then bounced back to win the fourth race held in the open waters of Christchurch Bay and in a breeze that was much more suited to the big boats. They were further helped by a windshift that came through just after they reached the first mark and affected the chasing pack, and a dying breeze that then slowed the smaller boats further.  But Carat then finished 34th in the Fastnet race finale, and, with similarly lacklustre results by Bla Carat and Paper Tiger, the Swedish team finished in 14th place, of 15 teams.

Carat then went on to compete in the 1984 SORC, in Class B against a newer version of Retaliation. With a slightly higher rating of 40.2ft, Carat finished sixth in class and 40th overall.

3 February 2018

Margaret Rintoul III - Frers 50

Margaret Rintoul III was a 50.5-foot design by German Frers for Australian yachtsman Stan Edwards as a replacement for his previous Margaret Rintoul yachts. Designed in 1981, she was a development of Frers' 1979-era 51-footers Acadia, Blizzard and Moonshine, with a slight reduction in displacement and length for a similar rating (originally estimated at 39.8ft IOR). 

The hull was built of aluminium, married to a composite sandwich deck using a combination of S glass, carbon fibre and Kevlar. The hull was built by the Maas brothers, who had built Lou Abrahams' 46-foot S&S design Challenge III two years prior. Weight saving was sought in every aspect of the boats' construction, where the hull plate thickness was lighter than contemporary aluminium yachts of the same size, with additional frames to provide extra strength.  In addition to the composite deck, the boat sported a Kevlar liferaft box, a carbon fibre steering wheel and an interior fit-out utilising Klegecell board and a teak veneer covering. The rig was based around a Zapspar section, developed in conjunction with Frers, and she flew North Sails.

The boat was commissioned by Edwards with the Southern Cross Cup and the 1982 Pan Am Clipper Cup in mind, where it was felt that the steady breezes and time-on-distance handicap system used in Hawaii and the US would encourage bigger boats rather than minimum-raters.
Margaret Rintoul III under construction
The estimated rating for Margaret Rintoul III was about half a foot higher than Blizzard, but the new boat was expected to be more powerful than her predecessor, with lighter construction permitting more ballast for the same displacement (28,900lbs), and more sail area (1,266sqft). Her lines were relatively undistorted, being narrower at the waterline and flatter in the for'ard and mid-sections than Blizzard, with less wetted surface overall. She featured the sharply swept back transom of Frers' most recent designs, with only a slight hollow in the stern sections around the after girth station (see construction photo above). The design concept proved to have plenty of potential after near-sistership Retaliation finished as the winner of the 1982 SORC. Her actual rating turned out to be somewhat higher than expected, however, coming in at 41.2ft. 
Margaret Rintoul III launches over a wave during the boisterous conditions of the 1982 Clipper Cup (photo B Brown, Yacht Racing/Cruising)
Margaret Rintoul III was chosen to represent Australia in their Clipper Cup defence in 1982, alongside Hitchhiker (Frers 40) and Szechwan (Davidson 39). She was sailed by Graeme "Frizzel" Freeman, former sailing master of Bumblebee IV (Frers 76). Margaret Rintoul III performed strongly in the fresh conditions that prevailed throughout the series, proving able to sail to her relatively high rating and finishing second in Class B and seventh overall (3/1/10/10/20) leading the Australian team to second place overall, behind the USA Blue team (Kialoa IV, Great Fun and Bullfrog).
Margaret Rintoul III became the feature of a North Sails magazine ad in the 1980s after this epic capture during the fresh conditions of the 1982 Clipper Cup
Margaret Rintoul III was subsequently sold to US yachtsman John Arens and was re-named Tomahawk. She had her first US regatta in the 1983 San Francisco series, where she started strongly with a win in the first race, but then had major spinnaker problems in the second race that nearly swept the crew off the deck, and then lost a man overboard in the fourth race. Nevertheless, she finished third overall in the City of San Francisco Perpetual Trophy (for the biggest IOR boats in the series), with placings of 1/2/2/4/2.
Margaret Rintoul III competing in the 1982 Clipper Cup also featured on the cover of Yachting magazine (December 1982, Guy Gurney)
Tomahawk made up part of the "USA White" team in the 1984 Clipper Cup, alongside Checkmate (Peterson 55, ex-Bullfrog) and Camouflage (Frers 44) and put in another strong performance, with close battles in Class B with teammate Checkmate, finishing second on individual points (just behind Pacific Sundance), for those boats racing within teams (2/3/2/2/12). The loss of Sundance team-mate Exador's mast in the Round the State Race let the USA team through to win the Cup, with Checkmate finishing 4th and Camouflage 15th.  The early dominance of Checkmate and Tomahawk came undone to some extent by poor performances in the heavily-weighted Round-the-State, with The Shadow overhauling both boats in Class B. Tomahawk finished fourth overall of all the boats competing (2/3/6/4/18).

Tomahawk (ex-Margaret Rintoul III) competing in the 1984 Clipper Cup (NZ Yachting magazine)
A new Margaret Rintoul IV was built for Edwards, and campaigned for a position in the Australian 1985 Admiral's Cup team, without success, before going on to race in the early years of the 50-Foot circuit. The present whereabouts of Margaret Rintoul III is not known (although she appears in the yacht list for the 2017 Sydney-Hobart Race).



18 December 2017

Checkmate (Peterson 50)

Checkmate is a 50 foot Doug Peterson design (Design #61, with input from Design Associates Bill Tripp and Bill Hardin) for US yachtsman Monte Livingston, and which was launched in April 1978. She was lighter and with wider stern sections than typical Peterson designs of the time, and aimed at doing well in the light air downwind races to Mexico on the US West Coast. Checkmate was notable for her varnished topsides that showed off a Meranti veneer over her Cedar plank construction, and her glossy finish remains to this day. Checkmate established an outright elapsed time record in the La Paz Race in 1979 (where she also finished second overall and first in Class A), and held this record for about 20 years.
Checkmate on launching day, 7 April 1978 (photo courtesy Doug Peterson Collection)
Profile, sail plan and interior arrangement drawing of Checkmate

 The original Checkmate is sometimes confused with the Peterson 55 Bullfrog, which she campaigned alongside in the 1982 Clipper Cup, where Checkmate managed a podium position in Class B (third) after Bullfrog broke her forestay while leading overall and in class (finishing fourth in class).  Bullfrog was later taken over by Livingston and his Checkmate team, and was renamed accordingly.  This later Checkmate sailed with great success in the 1984 Clipper Cup, finishing fourth overall (1/1/3/1/15) and was a member of the winning USA White team, alongside Tomahawk and Camouflage, and is currently for sale here.
Checkmate on her launching day, 7 April 1978 (photo courtesy Doug Peterson Collection)
Checkmate leads Zamazaan and Great Fun during the 1982 Big Boat Series in San Francisco (Yachting magazine cover, photo J Eisberg, Doug Peterson Tribute page)
It was expected that Checkmate would sail in the 2017 Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race as Checkmate of Hollywood, but unfortunately the boat wasn't quite ready on time. The yacht profile from the Sydney-Hobart 2017 website provides some detail on the boat and her crew for the race:

"A change of pace for Ray ‘Hollywood’ Roberts who has chartered the 40 year-old IOR Doug
Peterson designed Checkmate, built in San Diego by the famous Carl Eichenlaub, but updated in 2000 to make her a fast, comfortable boat. Roberts sailed Hollywood Boulevard, his Farr 55, to 36th overall for fifth in Division 1 in the Sydney Hobart last year, then placed fourth overall in the Brisbane Gladstone Race.... Roberts says Checkmate is a special (yacht), one of the last cold-moulded wooden boats. "It’s a showpiece and with her age allowance, we could be half a chance.”
Checkmate sailing upwind (above and below) after a recent restoration and while still based in the US
Checkmate after a recent restoration and while still based in the US
While Checkmate wasn't ready for the Sydney-Hobart, she made the startline for the 360nm Pittwater to Paradise Race (from north Sydney to the Gold Coast). Crew member Michael Spies reported that, with some good yardsticks in the fleet, including the Australian IRC champion Nine Dragons, it provided the perfect race to see where the boat was at performance-wise. Checkmate was fitted with a complete new sail inventory including main, J1, J2, J5, S2, S4, staysails and even a blooper.  Headsails were intentionally built smaller to reduce the IRC rating (to 1.113). The bottom was completely re-done and the foils faired and optimised. 

All the work paid off, and Checkmate won all the handicap prizes (IRC, ORCi and PHRF), and finished fifth on line (in the 17 boat fleet). Spies commented afterwards that "It was our first Australian race, after the disappointment of missing the Hobart. We backed ourselves. The competition wasn’t soft. Nine Dragons is an Australian champion. It wasn’t ideal conditions for our boat, but the boat lived up to our expectations – more than! Having run grand prix boats for 30 years, with a world champion crew, a mix of youth and experience, Checkmate was vastly different. It’s a 40 year-old timber boat, not carbon fibre. She’s a lot harder to steer, but more forgiving in motion, not as hard on the body. It was nice to have a hot meal and good sleep. We actually had an oven! It just proves the IRC rule is doing its job". 
Checkmate of Hollywood on her way to overall honours in the 2017 Pittwater to Paradise Race (photo Sailworld/Howard Wright IMAGE Professional Photography)
Spies added "Full credit to Ray Roberts and his enthusiasm for Checkmate and supporting this event. He had a vision and supported getting this boat back to Australia. For the crew, it was different, we worked hard without breaking the boat, learning about it on the way. There’s a lot of depth of talent and we prepared well for Hobart with new sails, which were flying for the first time in the P2P.”

Regatta information and results here.



15 November 2017

One Ton Cup 1977

The 1977 One Ton Cup was held on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf in early November (40 years ago at the time of preparing this article). It was won by local yachtsman Stu Brentnall, sailing one of five new Bruce Farr-designed centreboarders, The Red Lion.  While it was billed as a world championship, the series was dominated by New Zealand and Australian yachts, with six entries from New Zealand and four from Australia.  The remainder of the 14-boat fleet was made up of charter entries from France, the US, England and Canada.
The Red Lion - winner of the 1977 One Ton Cup
The series was made up five races, with three standard Olympic courses, a medium-distance race, and a long offshore race. The Red Lion took the series with placings of 2/1/1/4/3. Second and third places were also taken by Farr-designed centreboarders, Graeme Woodroffe's Mr Jumpa (4/2/3/2/2) and Don Lidgard's Smir-Noff-Agen (1/5/6/DNF/1).  The best showing by a "foreign" boat was B195, a Doug Peterson-designed centreboarder, sailed by former world Half Ton champion Tom Stephenson. B195 was the only non-New Zealand design in the contest, and she finished fourth overall (5/8/2/5/4).
Mr Jumpa - second in the 1977 One Ton Cup
The series was controversial on a number of fronts, with the breed of centreboarders being seen by some to be exploiting the centreboard "loophole" within the IOR rule, that had been so effectively exposed by the winner of the 1976 event, the Brit Chance-designed Resolute Salmon. Compared to Resolute Salmon, however, the New Zealand boat were of decidedly much lighter displacement, resulting in concerns by some establishment figures in the IOR governing body, the International Technical Committee, over both structural integrity and the stability of boats. This would lead to changes to the IOR in the following season that would penalise light displacement for the remainder of the IOR era. 
The shape of light displacement in 1977 - Jenny H is hauled for an inspection and following an incident with a spectator boat after winning the fourth race.

Funding the new boats by young New Zealand crews was also reliant to some extent on sponsorship, and thinly veiled references to the sponsors in the names of the boats also attracted protests before the regatta under Rule 26 of the former International Yacht Racing Union.
The Red Lion - her name survived a protest, but the Lion Breweries insignia was removed from her bow before the 1977 New Zealand trials
The hotly contested self-righting capabilities of the centreboarders were never put to the test, even in the 50-knot winds and big seas that were encountered in the last and longest race (325 miles), but the strength of some of the hulls were. Ray Haslar's Farr centreboarder, Jenny H, and an Australian sistership, Hecate, both retired from the race with hull damage after falling off some big waves, while other boats suffered some minor damage. B195 had split her hull in the rough second Olympic race, which her crew attributed to hitting something.
The top Australian yacht B195 slides downwind during one of the offshore races during the 1977 One Ton Cup
In the first race, an Olympic triangle course, the 18-knot northerly at the start swung to the west necessitating a course change for the final windward leg. The Red Lion led around every mark, in part because of her flying a reacher inside her genoa and spinnaker on the reaches, a sail combination none of the other boats used. On the last beat, the wind dropped to about five knots, and Smir-Noff-Agen, Jenny H and Mr Jumpa were spread across the track, all vying for second. Trying to keep a loose cover on all of them, The Red Lion fell into a flat spot and was passed by Smir-Noff-Agen.
Jim Young's Heatwave (a keeler converted to a centreboarder) showed plenty of speed in stronger breezes
The second Olympic course started in a 25-knot northeasterly, gusting to 30 knots. It was perfect conditions for the Jim Young-designed centreboarder Heatwave (New Zealand). She rounded the first three marks in the lead, but dropped back with slow spinnaker handling and a jammed slide at the top of the main when she tried to get a reef in after the bottom mark. The Red Lion took the lead and held it to the finish.

Smackwater Jack - seen here during the New Zealand trials series, which she won
During the night of the third race, a 165-mile medium-distance offshore race, the wind dropped, and some boats were completely becalmed for five hours or more.  The Paul Whiting-designed centreboarder, Smackwater Jack (the winner of the New Zealand trials) led narrowly around the most distant mark, Groper Rock, but on the reach back to the finish in light airs she was passed by The Red Lion, B195 and Mr Jumpa.
Smackwater Jack - the most radical of the 1977 breed of light displacement centreboarders (note the pronounced concavity in the bow sections)
The fourth race, the last Olympic course, started in a 25-knot easterly, and it looked like another benefit for Heatwave as she rounded the weather mark again in first place. Jenny H sailed past on the first reach, even with a crew member up the mast, and she stayed in front to win.
Jenny H to windward of Mr Jumpa in strong conditions during the third Olympic race
The real test of crews and boats was the final long offshore. It started in 30-knot winds, gusting to 35, as the fleet headed into it on a long bash to Channel Island. At this exposed point off the top of the Coromandel Peninsula the wind was blowing 40-50 knots, with very big seas generated by a contrary tide. Jenny H was leading the fleet on the way to Channel Island when she fell of a wave so badly that she had to retire immediately. Hecate and Smackwater Jack soon followed suit. Two other boats which stuck it out probably wished they hadn't. Piccolo, a Farr keelboat, and Result, a Lidgard-designed keelboat under Canadian charter, were both dismasted.  
Mr Jumpa in fresh conditions at the start of the final long offshore race
Smir-Noff-Agen elected to fly a spinnaker on the wild downwind leg and broached heavily, but recovered to take the lead at Sail Rock, in close company with B195, The Red Lion and Mr Jumpa. These four had a close race over the remaining 150 miles to the finish. Five miles from the finish the breeze began to fade, and progress was hampered with a strong ebb tide. The lead changed had several times until Smir-Noff-Agen and Mr Jumpa split tacks near the finish. Mr Jumpa fell into a hole, allowing Smir-Noff-Agen to take the gun, and the White Horse Trophy awarded to the winner of the long offshore.
US charter entry Rockie rounds Flat Rock during stormy conditions in the final long offshore race

30 September 2017

Hitchhiker (Frers 40)

Hitchhiker (photo Powerboat-world)
Hitchhiker was a 40.5 foot yacht, designed by German Frers in early 1980 for West Australian yachtsman Peter Briggs. Her lines derived from Frers' earlier SORC champion Acadia, and his previous Two Ton champion Gitana, but with a more modern and conventional approach, with moderate displacement, relatively clean lines, flat garboards and a deep keel (see profile drawing below). Favourable sail area to displacement and wetted surface ratios provided excellent acceleration. The boat was built from Kevlar and Klegecell by Bakercraft in Perth, and featured longitudinal bulkheads to provide immense fore and aft stiffness. Briggs underscored his seriousness with his Hitchhiker campaign by fitting the yacht with a German-made titanium-stocked rudder from Speedwave, and ordered a spare Stearn mast for the boat. All her sidestay turnbuckles were fitted below deck, and like most competitive IOR boats of the day, she carried a huge amount of internal ballast under the floorboards, with all possible weight centered amidships and down low. Hitchhiker measured in at 31.2ft IOR, a reasonably high rating for a 40 footer but reflected Frers' thinking at the time to not give up too much speed through excessive hull shape deviations in a quest for a lower rating.

So advanced was Hitchhiker’s design and construction, and her performance so competitive for the era, she was selected to represent Australia at two Admiral’s Cups (1981 and 1983). Briggs commented in 2013 (during preparations for that year's Hamilton Island Race Week) that the reason why Hitchhiker was a great boat in its early days was because it was an all-rounder and was quick in light, medium and heavy weather.

At the 2013 event, a bold battle flag donning a large red thumbs-up signal flew proudly on Hitchhiker’s forestay while the crew was immaculately dressed in matching red and white crew uniforms. The concept behind the boat’s moniker and flag dates back to 1980. Briggs explained that the concept behind the boat's moniker and flag came from the brainstorming of names in 1980 when they came up with ‘hitchhiker’. “Initially we thought ‘what a dumb name!’ but 'hitchhiker' means ‘free lift’ and that’s what you want in sailing, rather than when the wind knocks,” Briggs explained. “The thumb went with the hitchhiking and red is my favourite colour so we went with that". 
Hitchhiker during the 1981 Australian Admiral's Cup trials (photo Chris Furey)
One of her former crew recalls that Hitchhiker had all her halyards exiting the mast below decks. "Our 'platform' had all halyard winches mounted along the front edge. I did the bow and I would knock on the deck signals to the pit man down below. One knock hoist. Two knocks stop. And so on". 
 
Hitchhiker was the star of the 1981 Australian Admiral's Cup trials, counting five wins and line honours in two of the races to confirm her place in the team.
Hitchhiker amongst the fray during a general recall in the first race of the 1981 Admiral's Cup
Hitchhiker during the first race of the 1981 Admiral's Cup, with Pinta astern and to windward, and Britain's Victory to weather

Hitchhiker arrived at Cowes with a terrific reputation this was further bolstered when Harold Cudmore was brought on to join skipper Noel Robins for the inshore races. Unfortunately, however, Hitchhiker's reputation came undone right from this first race when she got tangled up with US yachts Scaramouche and Stars & Stripes, and Spain's Bribon III, and ended up over the startline early. More photos from that race can be seen here. Although Hitchhiker went on to finish the race, she was disqualified, presumably for the startline collisions.
Hitchhiker gets caught on East Bramble buoy in the second race of the 1981 Admiral's Cup (the full sequence can be seen here)
Hitchhiker suffered from another poor start, and needing to improve from her dismal first race effort she approached East Bramble buoy too low, and found both Canada's Pachena and Potitos blocking her ability to tack, and against a contrary tide Hitchhiker ended up on the buoy. Hitchhiker collected a two-point penalty for hitting the buoy, and a further ten points for fouling Bribon III, and took just six points from the race.
Another view of Hitchhiker's predicament at East Bramble buoy
Robins and his crew on Hitchhiker did their best to make amends in the next three races, but could only manage average placings in the Channel Race, the third inshore and the Fastnet race finale, to finish in 34th place overall, the lowest placed yacht in the eighth placed Australian team.
Hitchhiker (right) seen here in a downwind line-up during the 1981 Admiral's Cup with Canada's Amazing Grace alongside (centre)
Leeward mark action aboard Hitchhiker during the 1981 Admiral's Cup (photo World of Yachting 1981-82)

Hitchhiker stayed in Europe after the Admiral's Cup to compete in the Two Ton Cup in Porto Cervo in September 1981. She was small for a Two Tonner, and having not been designed for the event, it was necessary to fit a larger mainsail to lift her rating closer to the 32.0ft Two Ton limit. In generally light airs, Hitchhiker was the best boat at the series and won the Cup from Smeralda Prima (Peterson design), an Italian yacht helmed by Australia's John Bertrand, and Aries (Holland design), a US yacht helmed by Harold Cudmore.
Hitchhiker chasing Italy's Yena during the 1981 Two Ton Cup in Porto Servo, Sardinia (photo World of Yachting 1981-82)

Hitchhiker was the first and only boat to represent Australia in the Admiral's Cup, Clipper Cup and Southern Cross Cup teams. The strong breezes and choppy waters of the 1982 Clipper Cup in particular suited the boat, and she was consistently fast.  Hitchhiker also benefited from an all star crew, with Robins (skipper), Jack Baxter, Skippy Lissman, Joe English, Peter Gilmore, Peter Cavill, "Chas from Tas", Phil Smidmore, Geoff Gale and Dave Forbes ("4 Bears"), an Olympic gold medalist and America's Cup sailor. 
Hitchhiker powers upwind during the 1982 Clipper Cup
One of her crew recalls that "Noel had a habit of doing a conservative (late) start and simply sailing through our division and into the bigger boat division (that started five minutes before us) by the windward mark. By the end of the race we often found ourselves two divisions ahead of our division.

"4 Bears was brought on board to add to our steering depth for the long races at Clipper Cup. Hitchhiker would death roll like a pig square running in strong breezes (see photo, left). Most IOR boats did. In one of our triangle races at Hawaii Noel steered for the first four legs in a fresh breeze. When we turned the top mark for the square run Noel turned the tiller over to 4 Bears. It was the first time he had touched the tiller. Three death rolls later (30 seconds) the spin pole tip went under and the mast got pushed sideways and went over the side. In hindsight not the best time to introduce a new helmsman. Still, we got back together for the next race (unlike her team-mate, Police Car).

"In the Molokai Race we blew apart our favourite Kevlar mainsail. We knew it was on the way out but it was still fast. We carried a spare. However, because of the earlier dismasting the headboard slug would not go past the join in the mast. We removed both headboards off both mainsails and bolted the headboard off the torn mainsail onto the spare main. The whole process took over an hour while bucking our way to windward with just a #3 jib up (see photo, right). Once we got going again (in last place) we sailed through many divisions to arrive at the windward mark (as usual) leading our division and amongst the division of bigger boats that started five minutes ahead of us.  
We ran out of water in the Round the State race and found stainless steel nuts in the toolbox to suck to promote salivating".

Later, in the 1982 Southern Cross Cup, Hitchhiker was first around the windward mark in the short ocean race before being passed by the much larger boats on the return leg, and taking the overall win for the race.

Hitchhiker (left) on the start line just to windward of Di-Hard, with Once More Dear Friends (3000) during the 1983 Australian Admiral's Cup trials (photo Australia's Yearbook of Sail 1)
Briggs spent $100,000 refurbishing Hitchhiker for the 1983 Australian Admiral's Cup trials, including $40,000 worth of new sails from North, a new Zapspar mast to replace the one that was broken in the Clipper Cup, and alterations to the deck and interior layout by boatbuilder Ken Beashel. She retained a higher rating at 31.7ft (her key rating dimensions were 34.22 L, 12.26 B, 15,264 DSPL). While many new boats competed in the trials, including an updated version of Hitchhiker - Bondi Tram - she finished as unofficial top scorer of the series. Her race placings, 3/6/3/5/4/2/2/2/1/4 told the story of steady improvement through the trials as the crew,, comprised of sailors from Perth and Sydney, settled in. She joined the Australian 1983 Admiral's Cup team, alongside Bondi Tram and Once More Dear Friends, a Dubois 39 foot minimum rater.
Hitchhiker crosses Bondi Tram during the 1983 Australian Admiral's Cup trials (photo Australia's Yearbook of Sail 1)
Hitchhiker put in a more solid performance in the 1983 edition of the Admiral's Cup, opening with a very encouraging first in the opening race, but then dropping off with placings of 23/15/18/29 to finish as 16th yacht in the individual results, behind Bondi Tram (13th), with the Australian team finishing fourth overall.
An epic shot of Hitchhiker during the inaugural Hamilton Island Race Week (1984)
Hitchhiker was transported to the East Coast for the inaugural Hamilton Island Race Week in 1984. In fresh breezes Hitchhiker played the underdog role and won by a mere one point after entering the final race four points behind.
Hitchhiker hoists her spinnaker while Inch by Winch loses hers during the 1984 Hamilton Island Race Week
Later, the beautifully maintained Hitchhiker was again transported 5,000km from Perth, Western Australia, across the bare Nullarbor Plain to Hamilton Island on a semi-trailer, apparently the longest distance in the world to drive a yacht of its size.  With his three combined trips to Hamilton Island, in 1984, for the 25th anniversary, in 2008 and 2013 (where she formed part of the "First Fleet" division), Briggs has spent 30,000km on the road transporting Hitchhiker to the world famous regatta.
Hitchhiker during the 2014 Hamilton Island Race Week (photo Charterworld/Andrea Francoli)
“In the old days when we trucked over in ’84 we didn’t have to have a lead car and those sorts of things. Today, there’s a lot of rules and you have to have a car at the front saying ‘vehicle following’ which increases the cost considerably - it’s a big effort,” Briggs said in 2013.
Hitchhiker during the 2008 Hamilton Island Race Week (photo crosbielarimer.com/Sail-world)
Briggs still owns Hitchhiker and maintains her in original condition in Perth. The following video is of Hitchhiker sailing downwind, and giving her crew some white-knuckle moments, during the 2008 Hamilton Island Race Week: