2 July 2013

1981 Australian Admiral's Cup Trials

These photographs of the 1981 Australian Admiral's Cup trials series are courtesy of Australian yachtsman Chris Furey's personal collection. Interest in the trials was high following Australia's Admiral's Cup win in 1979, and ten new boats lined up alongside the known yardsticks Police Car and Impetuous which had been the vanguard of the 1979 Cup winning effort.  

Two new boats from Western Australia proved to be the ones to beat - Alan Bond's Peterson 43 Apollo V, which had been built in England by Jeremy Rogers (of Moonshine and Eclipse fame), and Peter Briggs new Frers 40 Hitchhiker. 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.

Starline jostling in the 1981 Australian Admiral's Cup trials, Apollo V (left), Police Car and Impetuous
Other new yachts which contested the trials included the Peterson 44 and New Zealand-built Inch by Winch, the Davidson 40 Szechwan and the Dubois 40's Seaulater and Once More Dear Friends. The S&S 46 Challenge (Lou Abrahams) was also in the fray, she had been in the winning Australian team in the 1980 Clipper Cup and had come close to winning the Sydney-Hobart race in the preceding December, just missing out to Ceramco New Zealand by 22 minutes on corrected time.
Challenge shuts out Szechwan at the start of one of the trial races
Hitchhiker was the star of the series, counting five wins and line honours in two of the races to confirm her place in the team. Apollo V strong performance also ensured her selection. Syd Fischer's latest Peterson-designed Ragamuffin was fortunate to make the team after finishing in sixth place on the unofficial points table.  Although of a similar length and rating to Apollo V, Ragamuffin was a more moderate and rounded shape. Her improvement throughout the trials, plus the promise of further ballast alterations, crew changes and the recruitment of Lowell North for the Cup itself, won favour with the selectors. The inclusion of Ragamuffin was at the expense of third placed Challenge.

Hitchhiker reaches under spinnaker and staysail
Although she dominated the Australian trials, Hitchhiker failed to live up to expectations in the Cup itself, opening her score sheet with a disqualification in the first race and a near last in the second to finish 34th yacht in the individual standings. Ragamuffin justified her selection by finishing as top of the Australian team (and tenth overall), but this wasn't enough to save the Australian team which slumped to finish in eighth place overall.

Apollo V sails upwind in light airs
The Apollo V crew take a break between races
Ragamuffin - a controversial choice for the Australian team, but she ended up being the team's best performer
The Peterson 44 Inch by Winch - name and graphics reflecting the involvement of one of her owners with Barlow winches
Hitchhiker chases the bigger Inch by Winch on a reaching leg in moderate conditions - the duck emblem on Inch by Winch reflected her home port of Duck Creek, near Sydney
The Dubois 40 Seaulater (above and below)

Szechwan leads Police Car on a tight reach
The older Peterson 43 Sunburst following Once More Dear Friends (left) and Szechwan (middle)


  1. The photo with Sunburst in it looks like she could be the later 1978 40 foot Peterson? Enjoy the blog, cheers

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Yes this was the second 'Sunburst' that Ron Young built.

  4. I sailed Police Car down for the trials. Can't remember the names of the other 2 guys on board but I beat them for the fastest time down wind. They left me in the bar at the CYC to sort of teach me a lesson about sailing before we left. Then they fed me ox tongue sandwiches and big glasses of Penfold's crappy port on board. They had very considerable experience. I still beat them.