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New Hooligan to test its prowess at Festival of Sails 2024

by Nic Douglass 18 Nov 2023 19:43 NZDT 26-28 January 2024
The last Hooligan at Hamilton Island Race Week 2019 © Nic Douglass / www.AdventuresofaSailorGirl.com

The journey of the newest TP52 that will hit Australian waters has been spoken of across many sailing circles in the last twelve months. We spoke to Terry Wetton, Team Manager and Marcus Blackmore, the owner, about the brand new Hooligan which will first race at the Festival of Sails 2024.

"With the Australian TP52 Gold Cup Series growing with up to 12 boats racing and a successful four regatta series sponsored by Pallas Capital and Zhik, Marcus [Blackmore] was keen to get back into it. Especially after campaigning two TP52's very successfully in previous years", said Wetton.

"I said to him [Marcus], unfortunately with the 52 Super Series having a 'no new-build rule' for a year or two, it will be hard to find a good boat on the market. Then Paul Westlake from North Sails who also competes on the 52 Super Series said to Marcus....'but there is nothing stopping you from a new build'".

The seed for a new TP52 was firmly planted.

"I've had two before with amazing success", agreed Blackmore. "And it's a development class, and every extra development is just a little bit faster. So we decided it [a new boat] was the best opportunity, and I really wanted to play!"

So after reservations at first for both Marcus and Terry, with a bit more homework and the help of Don Cowie from the 52 Super Series "Sled" program, both were on a plane to New Zealand to have meetings with Adolfo Carrau from Botin Partners Naval Architects, and Pure Engineering, Sail GP Technologies, Southern Spars and North Sails NZ.

"Marcus was incredibly impressed with all of their input, their enthusiasm for the project and how closely they all worked together as a team" said Wetton. So by the time we got home he was very keen to go ahead".

Don Cowie was appointed project manager and the build process began.

"Lots of meetings, lots of decisions, and following a huge effort from everyone involved we are now close to completion", said Wetton. "Paul Montague has been appointed Boat Captain and is now in NZ working with Don and all the team pushing an imminent boat launch".

Blackmore is already extremely proud of his team and the project that has developed, and the potential of the new Hooligan.

"I believe that we have developed the fastest, lightest, strongest TP52 that has ever been built on the planet to take part in, without a doubt the best monohull racing in the world", proclaimed Blackmore. "But then if we are light, it's about, 'how does the handicapper treat us', so all that remains to be determined when we get on the race track. And the first time that we get serious about this boat and how she will perform is in Geelong".

The boat is due to be on a ship to Australia so that it is ready for the team's first regatta in Geelong at the Festival of Sails.

"We are looking forward to racing the new Hooligan for the first time at Festival of Sails in Geelong in January 2024", stated Blackmore. "It will be a great test ahead of our Gold Cup Season which commences in March and runs through until May. We have up to 12 TP52's racing on the East Coast of Australia, which is a combination of class camaraderie and the closest possible racing in just brilliant boats".

To see the brand new Hooligan, or to come and join in on the racing yourself, make sure you put Festival of Sails in your diary, 26-28 January 2024.

Early bird entries close on Thursday 30th November 2023.

Enter here.

More about the TP52 Class in Australia here.

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