The 384 nautical mile journey from Sydney Harbour to Main Beach is a familiar one for Richard Hudson.
On Saturday 31 July, the Co-Owner and Skipper of Pretty Woman will line up in the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race fleet for the 33rd time.
It’s an impressive feat, considering the race itself is only 35 years old.
Richard enjoyed immediate success in his Sydney Gold Coast debut, winning the 1988 edition on corrected time with his half tonner Pemberton III.
It’s a race he can now look back on fondly, despite the tough conditions his crew of five faced.
“There are some interesting photos of boats going out of the harbour in 30-35 knot winds,” Richard recalls.
“We finished at 2am on the Monday and we were only a few hours off the previous race record held by Ballyhoo.
“We didn’t sleep much at all, it was hard work. That’s a race that really stands out for me.”
Richard and his co-owner David Beak take their Farr 45 Pretty Woman into this year’s Noakes Sydney Gold Coast with plenty of momentum.
She won Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s 2020-21 Blue Water Pointscore on IRC and ORCi, as well as the Short Ocean Pointscore on IRC and ORCi.
With a mixture of youth and experience on board, Richard feels he’s found the perfect blend for Pretty Woman’s crew.
“It’s a good, young, competitive crew,” he says.
“We’re going to Gold Coast with the same crew we would’ve taken to Hobart in 2020, so we’ve sailed together for quite a bit now and I love sailing with them.
“Everyone in our team is just busting to get out there. We look forward to the competition with the boats out of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and we’re really keen to make the most of this.”
Richard and David have put an emphasis on performance improvement for Pretty Woman over the last six months; many of her sails being recut.
With one eye on the return of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, the Noakes Sydney Gold Coast will be a good litmus test.
“I was looking back at the results and realised I need to get us about 2-3 per cent better to get us into the top three in our division for the Sydney Hobart,” Richard says.
“I worked out what I needed to do to get the rating optimised. We’ll achieve an optimisation in the rating [for the 2021 Noakes Sydney Gold Coast] and I want a performance increase.
“Our performance has been very good in 15 knots+ over the last little while, but not so good in the lower wind range, but I think I’ve solved that problem.
“All will soon be revealed!”