|Hitchhiker (photo Powerboat-world)|
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)|
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)|
|Another view of Hitchhiker's predicament at East Bramble buoy|
|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 powers upwind during the 1982 Clipper Cup|
"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)|
|Hitchhiker crosses Bondi Tram during the 1983 Australian Admiral's Cup trials (photo Australia's Yearbook of Sail 1)|
|An epic shot of Hitchhiker during the inaugural Hamilton Island Race Week (1984)|
|Hitchhiker hoists her spinnaker while Inch by Winch loses hers during the 1984 Hamilton Island Race Week|
|Hitchhiker during the 2014 Hamilton Island Race Week (photo Charterworld/Andrea Francoli)|
|Hitchhiker during the 2008 Hamilton Island Race Week (photo crosbielarimer.com/Sail-world)|