With the increasing number of registered TP52s in Australia over the last few years, it was only a matter of time until a dedicated circuit for the fleet was created. Some of the class’ owners took the initiative of the Gold Cup yachting regatta, in order to address a recent decline in TP52 activity due to the widening gap between some of the new designs and the older generation designs, which were more amateur-crewed. The event was a big TP52 showdown outside Europe’s 52 Super Series in the Med, and a big effort from all owners involved. The circuit visited Sydney, Pittwater and Newcastle, where the last race was held late March this year. Terry Wetton, the man appointed to manage the class here, believes they could potentially have as many as 17 boats racing for the Gold Cup series once it’s up and running. They’ve also had inquiries from overseas boats to join them.
Matt Allen was the first Australian to have a TP52 built in 2017, and saw Ichi Ban won the 2017 Sydney to Hobart race. Around 13 TP52s are sailing and actively racing around Australia today. Each boat can carry one pro sailor, however any additional one will attract a small penalty. The class is super – competitive, and even though all of them are TP52s, and even though the class has a transparent rating system which delivers competitive racing for boats of varying ages, there are great differences between yachts like Sailors with disabilities and latest generation yachts like Ichi Ban or Hooligan. On the other hand, older TPs can still have their day, as evidenced by Secret Men’s Business beating both Hooligan and Ichi Ban at the last Geelong’s Festivals of Sails.
The TP52 class (Transpac 52) started in 2001 in the US, once again by owners who wanted to race a Grand Prix sailboat that is fun, safe and reliable, both inshore and offshore. The yachts are designed to be raced by both amateur and professional sailors, and the class has grown steadily over the past 15 years.
The stability of the TP52 “box” rule has been a key factor in the success of the class: it means that the boats must fit within a national box of specified dimensions i.e single-masted, fixed keel, a single rudder, a maximum hull length of 15.85m (52′), a beam width of 4.43m, a keel draft of 3.5m and a spinnaker hoist height of 22.4m, along with a minimum total weight of 6975 Kg.
2015 rule changes has helped keep the class at the forefront of competitive racing, and even though the epic center of TP52 racing remains in the Med – with the MedCup Circuit – Australia has seen a growing number of boats being currently actively campaigned.
The 75th edition of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart race next December should see a great number of TP52s racing. If Hooligan, Ichi Ban, Gweilo, Celestial, Zen, Koa, Frantic, Ragamuffin, Quest, Envy Scooter, Secret Men’s Business and Sailors with Disabilities all line up at the start on Boxing Day it should be a lot of fun to watch!