Back in 1989 Finnish businessman Jukka-Pekka Mattila commissioned Cougar to build the twin-engine aluminium catamaran NOTAREAL. According to the company’s own group prospectus, the name is formed from the English words ‘Notary’ and ‘Real Estate’ which is where Mattila generated his millions of Finish Markka from. Built for rough water conditions, the Cougar saw little success in Europe.
Meanwhile, FinnScrew the propeller factory that specialised in marine propulsion technology, marine propellers, and marine design decided to become the main sponsor of the team.
By that time Mattila had teamed up with the Italian Walter Ragazzi and ran a Skater hull in the World Championships.
With no further use for the Cougar, it was purchased by Grahame Horne in New Zealand where it raced as Fleetlease. Then in 1996 the Fleetlease Cougar was involved in a 150kph crash in Waitemata Harbour, Auckland that almost cost Horne his life. In the impact, caused by a ferry wake the open cockpits were destroyed and Horne took the full force ripping his helmet off. Following the accident Horne stopped racing and put the Cougar up for sale.
Simon Isherwood the owner of Race Marine who’ve built, maintained, and repaired some of Australia’s most successful race boats flew to Auckland to inspect the damaged Fleetlease. The hull was then purchased by Tony Low and imported to Melbourne. Here Isherwood was instrumental in its transformation from open canopies to a safer, far more competitive race boat with a single cockpit, BMP drives and rudder. He also throttled the now named Smorgan Steel Cougar with Low in the 2004 season.
Unfortunately, after a race on the Gold Coast an escape hatch fell off, causing the boat to sink. The Cougar sat on the bottom of the Gold Coast seaway for three days before being salvaged and returned to Tony Low’s factory in Melbourne. Low then purchased the ex-Steve Searle Victory Cat and the Cougar was retired. Over time another canopy was fitted but the Cougar was never rigged. Circumstances saw the old hull parked up in a paddock in Braeside.
Here it sat until 2014 when Mat Humphrey flew to Melbourne to inspect the Victory Cat he was hoping to purchase. Sitting next to the Victory boat, was the neglected Cougar. This chance sighting began an eight-year passion project for Humphrey to restore and the old Cougar back to her former glory, with the dream of one day seeing her back racing again.
This weekend that dream becomes reality when, with Isherwood, a three-time Class 1 Australian Champion on the throttles Humphrey will be strapping himself into the driver’s seat and NOTAREAL will be back racing at Round 1 of the 2022 Offshore Superboat Championships at Wyndham Harbour Marina in Victoria with the Australian Offshore Powerboat Club.
Pitman Trucks have come onboard as principle sponsor of the NOTAREAL Cougar cat.
Dave Pitman said
I have always enjoyed offshore powerboat racing and have a keen interest in all forms of motorsport, so when Mat approached Pitman Trucks we were thrilled to get involved. We are really looking forward to seeing the boat back in the water and racing again.
Because of the significant history of the NOTAREAL Cougar, Dave Pitman was happy for the boats design to reflect its original 1990’s colour scheme.
Held at Wyndham Harbour Marina, the weekend will consist of five Offshore Championship races, two of which will be for Sport 65 & 85 classes and three will be for Offshore Superboat in which the NOTAREAL Cougar cat is entered in.