While many of the Grand Prix IRC boats racing in the Audi IRC series at Audi Victoria Week have just returned from the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race and are either Victorian locals or are racing at Audi Victoria Week and will then head back to Queensland NSW or South Australia, there are numbers of other boats that have come a long way specifically for this event, the first in the Audi Australian IRC series.
One such boat is Marcus Blackmore’s TP52 Hooligan. Built in 2009 by Cooksons New Zealand for Emirates Team New Zealand, the Botin designed TP52 raced in the 2010 Rolex Trophy series. Hooligan was just three days out of the McConaghy yard in Sydney after undergoing IRC modifications when the TP52 competed in that series in mid December.
It was an impressive start for Hooligan - she won three of the five races and won the Rolex Trophy series. Second overall behind Hooligan was Stephen Ainsworth’s Reichel Pugh 63 Loki, the winner of the 2009 Audi Australia series with Melbourne yachtsman Rob Hanna and his TP52 Shogun finishing in third place overall.
Sail-world.com interviewed Marcus Blackmore after she took two wins in races two and three of the Audi IRC series at Audi Victoria Week today.
‘We are really pleased with our progress so far and we are happy with today's results. For this year the plan is to do all the Audi series. I am terribly impressed by the Audi sponsorship and we all should take a deep breath and thank them for the sponsorship of yachting in Australia over the last few years, I think that it’s been absolutely fantastic.
‘There’s an increasing number of TP52s on the Australian scene. I ‘ve had a meeting with the TP52 owners down here and we are going to try and get together and run a regatta. It is not finalised yet, we have still have to check with a few of the other owners.
‘Our aim is to have a TP52 regatta a couple of weeks before the Audi Sydney to Gold Coast Race, that is mid-July. I just think it would be awesome if we could get eight or nine of these boats on the start line.’
Marcus continued. ‘It’s great to get back into serious racing. I have been on the sidelines, I guess for a couple of years, but I have been doing a bit of cruising in Alaska and Costa Rica on my motorboat and I have been doing a bit of flying around Australia in my helicopter.
‘I had a bit on and although I did have a few other things that occupied my time I missed sailing and I wanted to get back into it. I wanted something a little bit bigger than a Farr 40, which was what I had been most recently campaigning but I am keen to try and replicate some of that experience and that comes from owners deciding how they are going to manage their own racing and yachting and perhaps the owner drive and rule and just have a bit of fun like the Farr 40s.
‘Looking at the IRC rule, the sweet spot in terms of handicap racing might still be the heavier 45 footers like the Beneteau 45’s, but I think the IRC rule over time has come back to making life a little bit easier for the 50 and 60 footers and I think that is to the credit of RORC and Mike Irvine.
‘Now that the IRC rule has been adopted as a Grand Prix rule around the world what they can´t do is hammer the 50-60 footers too much. I think they have made it a little bit fairer, so that is where a lot of new boat development is happening,
‘We need that in yachting and we need people building boats and putting backsides on the rails.
‘So I decided to get into a TP52. I wanted a later model as the later models were built to ABS standards, which means they are better suited to offshore racing. I think as the class has evolved so has the hull form shape in the last few years.
‘There were three boats built two years ago and Team New Zealand had one of these boats and they were great guys to deal with.
‘I’ve been able to assemble a very good crew and I think we demonstrated that with the Rolex Trophy series result in Sydney despite the fact that we were late getting the boat ready.
‘I said to my crew ´Look I don´t have great expectations but I would like to do well. We have really got to spend some time on the crew work and make sure we have the boat set up right so that when we get to Geelong we will be ready to go.’
‘Then we went out and Hooligan won the first two races, it certainly exceeded our expectations. The boat is obviously a good boat but we have very good crew, there is no question about that.
‘Beyond the Audi Australian IRC Championship I might even be talked into doing the Brisbane to Gladstone. I think this would be a good boat for that race, and me being a Queenslander originally, I would like to do that race so we might fit it in the middle of the campaign .We are looking forward to a lot of sailing for this year.
‘Beyond September I don’t have any plans. What I generally do with my boats is to say ‘here is the plan for the next twelve months’ and get the crew to commit to the 12 months and somewhere down the track we decide what we do the following year.
'I have done 13 Hobarts and I don´t have a great desire to do another one…well I actually have a desire to do one but not two.
‘Whether I can be talked into that one, I am not sure. My own personal preference is the sort of racing we are doing at Audi Victoria Week - we go out and have three races in a day, come back hose the boat off and sleep in a good bed. It is not bad yachting.’
Marcus continued. ‘But I still have an enormous affection for the Farr 40 course and I spoke to Victor Kovalenko about the upcoming Farr 40 Worlds in Sydney. I suspect there is no more positive individual in the world than Victor. I said to Victor ‘I would love to do the Farr 40 Worlds just for fun and get a good crew together but really it is a bit silly going up against those guys that are sailing all the time.’
He said ‘Marcus, you are quite good, in fact you are very good and you can win.’ I said ‘Alright if you think so’. Anyway I went out the next week and chartered a Farr 40 and now I am going to do the Farr 40 Worlds.
‘I have chartered Transfusion I think it’s a good boat. Grant Simmer is doing tactics for us and Adam Beashel is going to do the main with me so we will get a good crew together’ he concluded.