Coutts produces high-performance racer

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Kiwi sailor Russell Coutts, the only skipper to win the America’s Cup three times in a row, has translated his passion for yacht design into a new light-displacement 44-foot boat, the Russell Coutts 44.

Kiwi sailor Russell Coutts, the only skipper to win the America’s Cup three times in a row, has translated his passion for yacht design into a new light-displacement 44-foot boat, the Russell Coutts 44.

“Along with competing, design has always been a huge passion for me, and is an increasingly big part of the pleasure I get out of sailing,” Coutts says.

An engineering graduate of the University of Auckland, Coutts has been working on the new boat since ending his America’s Cup involvement with Team Alinghi. He co-designed it with Andrej Justin. They undertook first testing on Italy’s Garda Lake in August with members of the Danish crew Coutts has been racing with during the 2005 season, and Coutts says the whole team was pleased at the new boat’s speed and performance.

Coutts describes the boats as light-displacement, high performance racers designed to sail with a seven-person crew. For a professional match racing format they could be sailed by just five crewmembers. He says the deck layout incorporates non-standard adjustments to help improve speed.

“The trim tab on the keel was an example of that thinking, to reduce keel area and yet still achieve good upwind performance and maneuverability. It adds to the complexity of the boat, but the racing enthusiast will enjoy exploring the different tab angles and the resulting benefits in performance.”

With a powerful sail plan, the new boat is intended strictly for racing, either match racing or day sailing fleet races. Four boats have been produced in carbon fiber using the infusion method of construction in very precise NC cut female molds. It features a carbon mast with PBO rigging, and a carbon boom and retractable gennaker strut.

“The testing we have done so far has confirmed that we’ve exceeded expectations,” Coutts says. “The boat is huge fun to sail and we had it sailing downwind at 18.5 knots on Lake Garda in about 22 knots of breeze.”

The engine also features a hydraulically controlled retractable prop.

Coutts says the boat is targeted at the day sailor who wants to sail a high-performance one-design class. It has no comforts for cruising, and with a big open cockpit, a fairly narrow beam and the huge sail plan it produces a lot of excitement, Coutts says. “The philosophy was to create something special for the racing sailor — a bit like owning a sports car versus a 4-wheel drive!”

The boat features a removable stern scoop with a two-piece mast, both developed to provide for easy transportation, assembly and winter storage.

The class rules and construction of the boat are being tightly controlled to protect the one-design concept and reduce development costs for participants. www.russellcoutts.net