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Upcycling your Recycling – Sister from another Mister

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail World AUS 24 Sep 2023 22:00 UTC
Centella, ex-TP52, now in construction in Queensland © Angelo Finocchiaro

Recently, over on our sister site Powerboat.World, we ran an Editorial entitled, Upcycling your Recycling. It looked at how the carbon fibre mould for a Volvo 70 was to become a stabilised monohull for long distance, super-efficient cruising. Fantastic stuff. Always good to hear about something being saved from the chainsaw and skip...

Today, we are looking at a conversion from an old racer to an express cruiser. OK. Perhaps not the most original notion, but this one is a bit special. The Gen III TP52 has its origins as part of Philippe Kahn's highly regarded, notably funded, and supremely well-maintained Pegasus Racing team. Penned by the Farr office, and built by the über-credentialled Goetz Custom Boats, she splashed in 2005. After life at Pegasus, she was Morning Light in the Disney programme, and was also Ragamuffin 52 for a spell there as well.

Alas, the pinched stern (not S&S style however) era boats can no longer hang onto the super-sleds with their beam all the way to the quarter, and much lighter construction. Not that this era were exactly Porky Pigs, mind you. At the very least, this era were genuine blue water boats.

So what to do? Where do you go? Many live here in AUS. You cannot modernise them as such, and age allowance does not really cut it, for rating 1.31 under IRC still requires a decent clip to beat many, and you'll need the A-Team on board to extract every penny from her. You'll also spend more than several pennies keeping the old girl firing on all 12 cylinders, too.

Just make it happen

The other thing I like about this programme is that it is enacting on a promise. Nice. There is also Design for Manufacture involved, as too Just-In-Time, and a very clear mind paid to resource allocation/utilisation, as it pertains to utilising your own group of companies, and some from trusted organisations elsewhere.

Dave Biggar promised his family they would go into the South Pacific in the Winter (Southern Hemisphere) of 2024. He got into making the cat of his desires, after not being able to find something with enough of the required performance to be legitimately called 'express'. The Cure 55 was born, which we have looked at in depth here and then again here. It was so good that paying customers showed up. Naturally, they went to the top of the queue.

It all meant that a new company (Cure Marine) joined his empire, and a custom 70-footer had the new venture well and truly off and running for Biggar and his partners.

So when the chance to secure the old TP came about, Biggar saw the opportunity to keep his promise, and circumvent his own waiting line, at least for now. Inside the group he had design with the talented Angelo Finocchiario now on board as part of the team in Coolum, laminating, foam, cutting and milling, cabinetry, and electrics all sorted, and they knew every decent boatbuilder for miles. Sorted. Well nearly. Space was a problem, but not for long, with Biggar building a brand-new shed to house the project. Crack on, hey.

What's going on?

The boat is already longer (56 feet), the keel is being shortened to a much more cruising oriented 2.5m draft with the same ballast, and there's a selection of sticks to choose from that will mean the masthead cutter rig will have more than enough grunt from three rags for'ard of the mast. Personally, I like the plan to use a reasonably new carbon rig from a Cookson 50 (possibly shortened down to the hounds), as the reduction in weight aloft will go some way to returning righting moment back to the boat, which also loses all the tail on the rail from the 11 crew.

In talking with Biggar the plan really came to life. This is like a current generation of Amel on steroids. True, it does not have anywhere near the same volume, alas how could it, but the notion of driving from the pilothouse with electric controls and captive winches is identical. No sitting outside in the cold with your hand on the wheel. Biggar talks about it as 'driving in your jimjams in the middle of the night - what could be better?'

"There's a continuous line furling Code Zero at the end of the 300mm shorter prodder, which does not have a bobstay, and this also houses the integrated anchor roller. A slightly overlapping furling Genoa is on the forestay, and about 1200mm back from that is the self-tacking jib, and the pair are on electric furlers," said Biggar.

"Everything is going back to the cockpit; all the reefing, the halyards, the mainsheet, headsail, and self-tacking jib are going on to winches, so that I can sit there inside on the port side at the double seat nav station and sail the boat on my own. I am not looking for a hectic, full square meterage boat like it used to be. We need to wind it back a bit. Off the breeze, like reaching in 15 to 20 knots, the boat will probably just light up anyway under the zero and full main. I'm not sure there'd be too many other cruising monohulls out there that would be remotely close to it."

There is definitely a lot of enthusiasm for this 'interim' project, which will splash around Easter 2024, and take off in say July of the same year. "I definitely still want my Cure 55, but I needed a boat that I can get away next Winter on for two or three months, as I had made a promise and I did not want to let my family down. Additionally, we have invested a lot in the new company (Cure Marine), so I needed to look after that, both in terms of cash and getting high quality boats out the door, thereby ensuring the brand's future," said Biggar.

Not only are they building a bigger, new facility for Cure Marine right now, they are also using this project to continue to test and refine a lot of the theorems and procedures we have outlined in the earlier pieces linked above. This is definitely a group that is on the march...


The 'new' boat has a new 80hp Yanmar turbo donk in it now, which remains right up close to the keel. It is the same block as the 54hp atmo unit it replaces, but the extra grunt ensures this cruiser remains express, even under Diesel. The rudder has moved about 400mm further aft, so there is now a fair old distance between the two, which means manoeuvring will take a bit of practice.

At any rate, it will be efficient under way, you won't have to rev it too hard to cruise, and best of all, it really will be the auxiliary, as there is 3kW of solar panels up on the coachhouse roof and 24kW of Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) storage, again, all of which ties into the greater group's knowledge base and real-world, off grid experiences.

The overall design calls for a sort of loft experience at deck level. This is lovingly referred to as the bathtub, which is the second component to be completed following on from the sugar scoop, then coaming, mullions and deckhead, followed by the final element, which are the raised bulwarks to give not only added safety, but something like a 300mm wide walkaround deck. These are likely to continue the natural flare of the hull somewhat, and thereby increase the beam a little. Equally, the new sugar scoop continues the natural rocker, and will be something like 70mm proud at rest.

Now the other cool aspect of this is the removal of the fence, with an elegant grab rail sitting atop the possibly teak cap, and it all sits below the sash lines of the expansive glass. Wicked. You really get to unlock all of this when you sit down with Finocchiaro at his computer, and revolve, spin, explode and zoom in on any and all different angles.

The sheer line will remain classical, and then the final element will be a new false bow, likely to be somewhat Dreadnought, that could well be 3D printed and serve to wrap up/encase (with a layer of carbon over the top) the whole new, higher bulwark/hefty prodder/sheer line discussion.

There are no doors separating internal and external. The deck level contains a 4.5m long galley and opposing sofa, as well as the all-important nav station. Down below there are two Queen bed cabins on either side, with the Starboard one being larger, and then head and shower separate this from the for'ard Master, which also has a bit more lounging space.

Zone RV will do the interior panels, with the cut file about a month away, before assembly and then ultimately fit out can commence in something like six to eight weeks from now. Again, this all highlights the modular aspect to not only design, but also build. Mick Doiuglas is doing a marvellous job as the primary operator on the build, but you have Zone, Link, and Cure Composites involved in componentry, then Noosa Marine building the actual construction of large elements. Files go places, pieces get cut, and then crews assemble. Simple in its complexity.

"It doesn't matter if they're not building parts next to the boat, or up the road. By being a digital project we can just farm it all out to different areas, then it all comes back, and fits to the millimetre," said Biggar.

Out on deck there are two additional lounges near the twin helms, but still undercover. The spoon is all about carrying the 3.3m RIB tender of say 70kg and powered by maybe 15hp so it can plane, and offering stepped access to the water. Some at Cure Marine want to 3D print their own tender so that it fits the brand, as it were, but Biggar is careful not be taking resource off the group at a time when the 55s are the main game. I guess we'll see what happens there...

All in all, Centella (as she is known) is typical Dave Biggar style - a high performance hull with lightweight interior.

As a part of this methodology, I think we can say that despite there being a large number of sails around, that would all need cutting to do the job, something else will happen. "I think the best thing to do, and the boat certainly deserves a nice set of 3Di North Sails, and this will definitely give me the best sort of cruising experience. Next year we're off into the Pacific, and then maybe down to New Zealand for Christmas. So there are few miles to do, and it is all about enjoying both our time on the water and then at chosen anchorages."

Got the look

"I think we'll have all the global structure done in the next eight weeks and probably have the carpet set ready to go in at a pretty similar time and spend a few months making it look pretty and get all the systems working."

"For the topsides I'm thinking a pastel type colour. We've had a full interior design job done on it, which my wife enjoys doing. It's going to have some pretty slick interior stuff in it as well. There's a really nice modern, blonde, whitewashed cork material for the floor, and this also goes all the way outside to back of the cockpit, as well. It looks amazing."

The grab rails atop the bulwark extend to the same height as a normal stanchion, and are in a really nice matte black finish. The modern, simplistic, clean, and yet very stylish aesthetic is the overarching ethos here, and it works. Given the family includes two young boys, it also needs to be 'practical', as Biggar puts it.

Getting the looks

A boat like this is bound to be noticed. At maybe 12-13 tonnes dryship, pulling say 18-22 knots in the right conditions, and surfing, well anybody around will take a look, but clearly it won't be for long!

"I would have thought someone would have done a performance pilothouse already. In some ways, the new big RTW race boats are slowly, but distinctly turning themselves into pilothouses, with big enclosed areas because they realise it's better to be sitting inside rather than out in the weather."

"Imagine having a $6M Swan or Oyster or something, and you've got to keep your watch at 2 o'clock in the morning, sitting out in the cold. I just don't know who would do that."

More than anything, this is going to be plain old interesting, for Biggar is a multihull guy at heart, so I think we can not only say there is a level of motivation here, but also a real chance to have a crack or two at die-hard monohullers. 350nm days instead of say 180 is going to put a wry smile on Biggar's face, that's for sure.

"To be honest, even to put that back into a safety perspective, if the wrong weather system pipes up and you can't do a 350 mile day, then that's when you can get into trouble. Knowing you can sail away from them is great, especially when you have the family on board. Equally, knowing you can sail to the right system is a bonus."

Keep on top of the goings on the YouTube Channel.

OK. There it is. There is so much more on the group's sites for you. Simply use the search field, or 'edition' pull-down menu up the top on the right of the masthead to find it all. Please enjoy your yachting, stay safe, and thanks for tuning into

John Curnow
Editor, Sail World AUS

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