by Rob Mundle
The Champion Yacht at the inaugural Audi Hamilton Island Race Week in 1984, the famous Australian Admiral’s Cup challenger, Hitchhiker, will be trucked 5,000 kilometres across the continent in August to be part of this year’s 30th anniversary regatta.
Hitchhiker (Peter Briggs) 1984
Perth yachtsman Peter Briggs had the yacht designed and purpose-built for Australia’s three-yacht team for the 1981 Admiral’s Cup, an international series staged out of Cowes, England, which is recognised as the world championship of ocean racing.
He still owns Hitchhiker, and has maintained her in near-original condition, so, on hearing that a special 1984 ‘First Fleeters’ division was being created at this year’s milestone edition of Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, he had no hesitation in making plans to have his yacht there, along with as many of the original crew as possible.
Hitchhiker’s design and construction was so advanced, and her performance so competitive, that she was chosen as a member of the Australian Admiral’s Cup team in both 1981 and 1983, and while neither challenge was victorious, the lure of the inaugural Hamilton Island Race Week in 1984 in the tropical waters of the Whitsundays, brought the remarkable red-and-white hulled Hitchhiker a historic victory.
In a closely fought series, Briggs and his crew, which included emerging champion sailor Peter Gilmour, claimed the title of Hamilton Island Race Week Champion by just one point over another Admiral’s Cup team contender, Graeme Lambert’s Too Impetuous.
Ironically, that old rivalry will be renewed this year as Too Impetuous has also been entered for the First Fleeters Division by her current owner, Rudy Weber.
It was the excitement of the competition among the 94 yachts that first year, the spectacular nature of the courses around the myriad of Whitsunday islands, and the post-race parties back at Hamilton Island that created the formula for the impressive success Audi Hamilton Island Race Week has enjoyed for three decades.
This year, organisers are determined to present an even higher level of pleasure both on and off the water, so the series continues to retain its identity as the best regatta in Australia for competitors, their families and friends.
Entries are already being lodged at a rate above anything previously experienced, a trend that will lead to the 50th yacht being registered this week. A fleet of around 200 is expected for the series, which will be staged from August 17 to 24.
Luxury carmaker, Audi, returns as the Title Sponsor of Hamilton Island Race Week in 2013. The German premium brand will host a range of special events on the island for yacht owners and guests to enjoy during the week.
More at www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au