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Russell Coutts Designs New High Performance Racer

Russell Coutts Passion for Design Produces New High Performance Racer

GENEVA, 5 OCT 2005: Russell Coutts, the only skipper to win the America's Cup three times in a row, has translated his long-standing passion for yacht design into a new light-displacement 44-foot boat, the Russell Coutts 44, which will be officially launched on October 8 at the Genoa International Boat Show.

"I'm tremendously excited by this project, and really pleased at the way the new boat is looking and working," Coutts says about the 44, which will also be on display at the Barcolana regatta over the same weekend at Trieste.

An engineering graduate of the University of Auckland, Coutts has been working on the new boat since ending his America's Cup involvement. He co-designed it with Andrej Justin, who has designed several racing boats, including a 33-foot match race JustinTen and an 80-foot carbon, canting keel MaxiJena. They undertook first testing on 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 highly pleased at the new boat's speed and performance.

While the new boats have some distinctive America's Cup features, says Coutts, they are light-displacement, high performance racers and designed to sail with seven person crew, or for a professional match racing format they could be sailed by just five crew.

"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.

"When we started to formulate this concept I wanted to create a boat that would be exciting to sail downwind and powerful in light winds because most of the harbour and lake sailing is staged at lighter wind venues. I also wanted a boat that could be sailed short-handed with a deck layout incorporating many non-standard adjustments that 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."

"The testing we have done so far has confirmed that we've exceeded expectations. 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. "

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 fibre using the infusion method of construction in very precise NC cut female moulds. It features a carbon mast with PBO rigging and a carbon boom and retractable gennaker strut.

"We have put a lot of effort into reducing weight and windage in the mast and rigging," Coutts says. "In conjunction with one of the companies on the project, we are now developing and testing a solid carbon head stay which incorporates a single head foil."

The engine also features a hydraulically controlled retractable prop.

The boat is targeted at the day sailor who wishes 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. Many features on the boat, such as the weed cutter and retractable prop, will be on display at Genoa and Trieste.

Production has drawn on many different suppliers in different countries providing a wide range of expertise. The World Carbon Company based in Slovenia produced the first four boats under a licence for Europe, Russia, Africa and the United States.

The class rules and the construction of the boat are being tightly controlled to protect the one-design concept and reduce development costs for participants. For fleet racing it will be an owner driver class with strict limitations on the number of professional crew.

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