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The History Of Cookson Boats

ImageFormed 31 years ago, under the leadership of Terry Cookson, Cookson Boats produced its first composite racing yacht in 1979. This significant step in composite construction was the beginning of a long list of high performance custom and production yachts.

Terry, a shipwright by trade combined his love of the sea and registered his company TP Cookson Boat Builders Ltd in 1974. When Terry was growing up in his native England, the yachting industry was a wooden one. Consequently his earliest yachts produced in his adopted country were wooden. Since then he ran the complete range of materials from ferro-cement through to the early forms of fiberglass to the new generations of “exotics”.

His philosophy for a winning equation in yacht racing was lightness plus strength equals speed. Every element was important. When he wasn’t building yachts, he was quite likely to be sailing one. In his spare time he designed and built the family cruising yacht while raising a family of seven with his beautiful wife Emily on the North Shore in Auckland.

Cookson Boats is a family business. His son, Mick first started boat building for Jim McKay and then for Salthouse Custom Glass. In 1974, he began work at Cookson Boats and together they established themselves as builders of custom offshore racing yachts.  As their reputation expanded internationally, so did the need for bigger premises. In 1989, they purchased their current manufacturing facility which has since been expanded to occupy 40,000 sq ft.  

ImageFarr Yacht Design and Cookson Boats have worked closely together on a significant number of projects. One can only look at the irony of what was unearthed on completion of their first composite racing yacht, a Farr Yacht Design named Hot Number. The client was none other than Vern Newlove, world renowned for his graphics and still in high demand at Cookson Boats. As their international reputation grew so too did their project list of builds with leading designers.

Cookson Boats have seen the rise and fall of the I.O.R Rule through to the development of the IMS Rule. In 1992, Mick Cookson indirectly participated in the shaping of the IMS Rule with the convincing success of the Cookson High 5, Farr IMS 40. This was followed by a Mumm 36, High 5 in 1995 and two Cookson 12m’s High 5 in 1996 and 1997 respectively. 

In 1999, he went on to build a performance Cookson 47 Racer/Cruiser High 5. This High 5 along with sister ship Seahawk’ and the Cookson built Big Apple III successfully defended the Kenwood Cup for New Zealand.  In retrospect they had successfully retained the cup having won it in 1998 with three Cookson built boats; Big Apple iii, IMS 45, GNET ILC 40, and White Cloud, Cookson 12m.

But as the list of successful projects grew from Maxi yacht to 12m, none was more satisfying than New Zealand winning the Americas Cup in 2000 with NZL60.


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