RC44 Class Sailing With Russell Coutts
The Challenge and Adventure Team spent an afternoon with Russell Coutts aboard the RC 44 in Newport. The RC44 is in Newport, RI to introduce the boat to an American audience before the Miami Cup, on December 7 – 12, 2010. This will be the first ever RC 44 regatta in North America.
We caught a RIB out and met the boat off Goat Island. The crew let us know where to hold on and more importantly what not to grab. They set the sails and the fun began. She rose up and took off. What a ride. The boat is sleek and sexy and flying across Narragansett Bay she is a head turner. Any questions I had thought of asking Russell about how the boat performs were gone.
The winches grunt as we power up. Everyone hikes a bit further. For a while we fly up and down Narragansett Bay. Past the tour boats filled with tourists waving and cheering as they see Russell Coutts is at the wheel of this BMW Oracle racer blasting past them. I looked around at Russell and the rest of the guys and realized that even though they had done this many times before, they were proudly enjoying showing off the boat and her abilities. All fun aside though, this is a serious racer.
The RC44 is a light displacement high performance One Design sailing boat. It was designed by four-time America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts, together with naval architect Andrej Justin. The RC44 was created for top level racing in international regattas under strictly controlled Class Rules. The concept and the design features of the RC44 are dedicated to the amateur helmsmen racing in fleet racing sailing events.
The objective of the Class is to develop a high level and entertaining racing program and to keep the absolute one design aspect of the RC44 by ensuring that all boats are as identical as possible in terms of construction, shape of hull and appendages, weight and weight distribution, deck layout and equipment, sail plan and performance.
“We wanted to include a degree of complexity so an owner can experience what a top-end race boat is like to sail, and it delivers on that”, explains Russell Coutts. “Yet we also wanted it to be easy to own – you can race this boat in summer and if you wish put it away relatively easily in winter.”
“While the RC44 have some distinctive America’s Cup features, they are light-displacement, high performance racers and designed to sail with eight person crew, or for a professional match racing format they could be sailed by just six crew. 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.
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 RC44 is intended strictly for racing, either match racing or day sailing fleet races. 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. 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 fact that the boat can be shipped, trucked or sent by rail to the next event by container is a definite plus. It saves on transport costs.
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.
Thank you Russell and all of the crew for an afternoon I will not forget. As we were getiing off the boat Russell asked how we like it . Still feeling giddy, not normally a word I use to describe myself. All I could say was “I want One !”
For More Photos Of Russell Coutts’ RC44 Taken By George Bekris Click HERE
More information about The RC44 can be found at The RC 44 Class site
|BOAT DIMENSIONS: LOA 13.35m 43.8′ Bmax 2.75m 9′ Draft 2.90m 9.5′ Displ 3560kg 7850lbs Keel 2200kg 4850lbs Crew 680kg Engine 20HP inboard diesel with retractable drive|
|SAIL DIMENSIONS: G -3 39m² 517sqft G -1 60m² 646sqft Main 70m² 753sqft Gennaker y; 170m² 1722sqft Gennaker 150m² 1399sqft|