29 July 2013

1985 Australian Admiral's Cup Trials

These photographs of the 1985 Australian Admiral's Cup trials series are from Australian yachtsman Chris Furey's personal collection. 

After winning the Admiral's Cup in 1979, Australia slumped to eighth in 1981 but bounced back somewhat in 1983 with a fourth. The 1985 trials series was held on Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay and in Bass Strait, and featured a number of new boats, including Alan Bond's new Apollo VI, the Dubois 40 Black Magic, Peter Kurt's new Farr 43 Drake's Prayer and Lou Abraham's latest 'Challenge' yacht, the Frers 43 Challenge III. Following his disappointing 1981 campaign in his original Frers 42 Hitchhiker (but with better success in 1983), Peter Briggs was back with a new Frers 40, Hitchhiker II. 

Drake's Prayer, which had earlier retired from the 1984 Sydney-Hobart with cracks for'ard, was one of the top boats in the eight race series, and showed devastating speed reaching and running in moderate to fresh winds, and backed this with better than average performance elsewhere around the track. Her worst place was tenth in the first race when the minimum raters finished quickly on a freshening breeze. After that she won two and never finished lower than fifth.

Challenge III
Don Calvert's new Tony Castro design Intrigue, rating 30.4ft, proved a real flyer in light airs and flat water, also won two races. She had to retire from the long race finale with rig damage but still finished a clear second on points. Abrahams finally made the team at long last with Challenge III, rating 33.2ft. She started the series well, slumped slightly in the mid-stages but recovered at the finish to clinch selection with a third in the final long ocean race.  

Sagacious (Farr 40) with Police Car to the left, and ex-German yacht Sudpack to the right
 The Farr 40 Sagacious, formerly Huon Spirit, won the final long race and one other race. But she slumped badly in the middle distance races and was unlucky to miss out, finishing fourth on points

Hitchhiker II
 Hitchhiker II, rating above the One Ton limit at 31.1ft, suffered drastically from a lack of preparation.  Apollo VI, with a nucleus of Australia II talent aboard, was expertly sailed and won the first race. Thereafter however she struggled to match the speed of the other minimum raters. The much vaunted Margaret Rintoul IV was never in the hunt and returned to Sydney without completing the trials.

Black Magic
So for 1985 Australia bucked the trend of many other nations who had selected minimum rating One Tonners for their teams. It was considered that the team would be big enough to clear the ruck of One Tonners, but still be small enough to be in the hunt if the Channel and Fastnet races turn into small boat benefits, as had often been the case.

Scallywag II (Farr 40)
The Australian team proved to be reasonably competitive, finishing fourth overall, and were not far behind the third placed New Zealand team. Their overall result was, however, hampered by a retirement by Challenge III in the Channel Race when a spreader collapsed soon after the start. Drake's Prayer also suffered from a broken main halyard in the Fastnet Race, but Kurt's and his crew returned to repair the halyard and headed back out to sea again. Intrigue, which had performed only averagely in the earlier One Ton Cup, was fully competitive and finished as the top yacht in the team in tenth place overall.

Dry White (right) in a close tussle with Intrigue
Apollo VI

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