Robin Ward is lovingly restoring a 32′ wooden Cougar catamaran that last raced in 1989, I went along to see the project today, and to chat about his plans.
The boat was built in the Philippines in 1983 for twins, Gary and Mike Toleman, at the time their father, Ted, was the majority share holder of Cougar Marine.
He also owned a Formula 1 team, and in 1984 when the catamaran first hit the water, Ayrton Senna made his racing debut for Toleman.
The twins raced the boat in the Everest Round Britain race and campaigned it in Britain until it was sold to new owner John Yeoman.
Yeoman, painted it in the colours of his main sponsors, Unipart and Lamb’s Navy Rum, and raced the boat with Kim Leachman and Paul Sinclair until a serious ‘coming together’ in 1989 with a a rival craft caused massive damage to the port side.
The boat was retired from racing and then sat in the Basildon Powerboat Museum for many years.
‘Unipart’ now resides in a barn just a short drive away from the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team in Northampton and Ward is gradually getting her ready to race again.
The damage from the 1989 accident has now been fully repaired, when Unipart was on display in Basildon, it was a cosmetic job only.
With the hull ready to race again, Ward has turned his attention to power, he has fabricated engine mounts and they are ready to receive 2 small block Chevrolet motors which will run off Mark 5 drives.
Ward’s methodical approach to the project dictates that we will not see Unipart racing again this year, however, he has set his sights on running her in the British UKOPRA series in 2020.
He is hoping to see speeds in the early 90’s, he said:
It will be great to perhaps race against the likes of Dry Martini and see how we get on out there!
John raced Offshore UIM Class 3 in the 1980’s & 1990’s.
He served as the Cowes Torquay Cowes Event Director for 4 years, including running the 50 th Anniversary Event in 2010.
He has recently organised 4 British Offshore races under UKOPRA sanction.
He is the Editor of Powerboat Racing World.