Coutts Reflects on 10 Years of RC44
Published on January 24th, 2017
by James Boyd, Sailing World Magazine
The RC44 class celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016, and with 11 boats regularly competing on a circuit straddling Europe and the Caribbean, the high performance owner-driver keelboat continues to prove itself as an enduring contemporary one-design race boat.
The RC44 is of course unique among one-designs in having been conceived by ‘the man’ himself, America’s Cup legend Russell Coutts, along with Slovenian designer, Andrej Justin. While Coutts is known for his prodigious sailing talent, part of his success is due to his formal training as an engineer and his deep understanding of the technical nuances of race boats. As one might expect from Coutts, the RC44 is an uncompromised, state of the art production boats that is in no way dumbed down.
While it is light, with a slender hull form, the RC44 keel draws 2.9m with a CNC-machined bulb that ensures the keel’s center of gravity is as low as possible. It is also the only one-design to feature a trim tab on its keel, a standard feature on Version 5 America’s Cup monohulls. This provides lift, dramatically improving the keel’s efficiency upwind, also allowing the foil to have a smaller, lower drag section. This is just one of several features of the RC44, showing the boat’s America’s Cup pedigree.
“We’ve had a lot of great moments sailing the boats,” says Coutts. “They’re fun to sail and the builders did a nice job of making sure they’re equal. The class rules are well administered, so it means that the racing is close and you see different winners at different events, which keeps it interesting and exciting for the teams competing.”
Managed from Switzerland by Bertrand Favre, who also runs the D35 catamaran circuit on Lake Geneva, the RC44 Class has always attempted to lead the way in race management. It was among the first to adopt on-the-water umpiring, thereby negating tedious post-race protest hearings.
From the outset, the class has maintained top level, consistent race management with Peter Reggio the RC44 Championship’s regular PRO and Marco Mercuriali its Chief Umpire. It has also responded to the call of its owner-drivers, who determine the class’ direction, to reduce course lengths. This enables 10 to 14 races over each event’s four days of fleet racing, maximizing owners’ ‘bang for their buck.’
One area where significant thought went into in the design of the RC44 was its transportation. With circuits regularly visiting different corners of the globe, shipping a yacht as deck cargo represents a significant percentage of annual running costs, as well as increasing the risk of damage. Full Story.