There is little doubt in Mick Cookson’s mind; with the number of Cookson boats competing and their winning performances delivered, 2007 was one of the best years for Cookson Boats.
Quantum Racing’s division and overall result in the 2007 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race was a reward for both Ray Roberts and the team at Cookson Boats.The Cookson 50, racing with a canting keel, finished first in IRC Division A and third overall on IRC. Quantum Racing was a strong contender for overall IRC honours in the until they sailed into a hole as they entered Storm Bay.
'They could have won the whole thing outright if they hadn’t parked for while. To get a third overall is a fantastic result,' Cookson said.
Fellow Cookson 50 Living Doll, owned by Michael Hiatt, also delivered an excellent result finishing 11th overall on IRC. They raced with a fixed keel having made the change from the canting keel earlier in 2007. This gave Living Doll a rating advantage over Quantum Racing, but they still needed to achieve a 'healthy' margin on time over the other Cookson 50 to beat Quantum.
'I have spoken to Michael a couple of times since the (Hobart) race and he was happy enough with the way the boat is currently going on IRC.'
The Cookson-built TP52, Cougar II owned by Melbourne sailor Alan Whiteley, was also in the running for overall honours until a broken chain plate put a stop to their Hobart campaign.
'It was quite interesting that. The boat builder that looked at it over there said there doesn’t appear to be anything untoward to him in the way that it has been put together. The designers say what the designers and engineers will always say, that it should have handled it, but obviously didn’t.
'Talking to Alan Whiteley, he was still very happy with the boat’s performance,' Cookson said.
A quick fix by Whitely’s team and Cougar II was back on the water for the Skandia Geelong Race Week. Racing against TP52s Jamie Macphail’s Quest and Graeme Wood’s Wot Yot, Whiteley’s Cougar II proved their competitiveness by finishing in second place overall on IRC. Overseas results
Overseas Cookson-built boats had a stunning year. For the Cookson 50s Piero Paniccia’s Calipso IV of Italy won Class 0 in the Barcolana Triestine Regatta which had 1831 competitors on the start line.
Ireland’s Chieftan, owned by Ger O'Rourke, won the prestigious Somerset Memorial Trophy for outstanding racing achievement by a yacht owned or sailed by a RORC member after winning the Rolex Fastnet Race and placing second on IRC in the HSH Nordbank Blue Transatlantic Race 2007.
In the TP52 class Sweden’s Torbjorn Tornqvist with his Artemis won the Med Cup and the TP52 Global Championship trophy.
Topping off the year for Cookson was being an important part of Team New Zealand’s uncompromising challenge for the America’s Cup. Projects for 2008
'If I told what they were I would have to shoot you,' Cookson jokes.
'We are working on some projects that we haven’t squared away as yet so we can’t go into depth on those.'
Sail-World.com can report Cookson Boats are flat-out with finishing the building of the Juan Kouyoumdjian designed 100-foot super-maxi for an American client, due for completion in March. They also have under construction a new TP52 designed by Reichel/Pugh Artemis owner Torbjorn Tornqvist.
Cookson Boats continue to receive enquiries from Europe about their Cookson 50 design. 'We are not actively promoting it because we can’t deliver a boat because of the current work load. We can’t get a boat into Europe for the next European summer. The current projects are preventing us from doing that. What happens beyond that I am not sure.' Future of TP52s on Australian racing scene
Cookson believes the TP52s in their modified form will continue to be good performers in Australia sailing conditions, both in long races and short regattas.
The TP52s racing in Australia have made changes that Cookson says he suggested some time ago should be done. They have taken all the lead out of bilge, which is penalised under IRC, and put the lead on the bulb. Some of them have also gone a little deeper in draft to get more righting moment
'Fundamentally they are good boats. The great thing about the rule, apart from its VCG components, is that they are fundamentally good hull shapes and fundamentally great boats.
'They have only been waiting 20 years for something like this before they turned up. There is absolutely no reason that they could not have been built 20 years ago except that the IOR, and then IMS rules, prohibited them from building good, wholesome boats. So all they are doing is seeing a catch-up and these boats are all fundamentally good boats.
'The interesting thing about this is, with the modifications they rate lower and go faster. So how IRC will cope with this is going to be interesting.'
Yachting Australia’s sport services manager, Glen Stanaway, reports the Rating Office will apply the same standardised formula and methodology to the modified TP52s as is applied to all boats.
'They consider the same features or the same design concepts and they put the boats through exactly the same process as any other boats that are demonstrating the same features. No one gets looked at in the context of their own design. They get looked at within the context of the whole system.
'The challenge for the Rating Office is staying current and relevant to designs, optimisations and features that are constantly coming out in any class of offshore racing yacht,' Stanaway said.
The 2008 rules have already been published and new rating certificates will be issued in Australia from 1 June. In the meantime the current group of TP52 owners will no doubt be studying the rule changes and looking at the likely impact of those rules on their boat’s TCC.
'One of the great things about the IRC is that the owners go to bat for themselves and they (the Rating Office) are not disregarding the owners input. And, these are not proposed boats. They are existing boats that are performing well under their rules. They can’t argue about them as being good boats. So at the end of the day the good all-round boat should prevail if sailed well. And that is what is happening,' Cookson said.
'I think that the level of these recently modified TP52s are being sailed at is very high. So therefore they should do well. And the fact that they have done well is fantastic.'
The fantastic on-water performances and the fun owners are having with their Cookson-built yachts are the rewards are what will drive Mick Cookson and his team in 2008.