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9 July 2004, 01:52 pm
Guest Appearance At ISAF Youth Worlds
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Russell COUTTS©Phil Cole /Getty Images

Russell Coutts

Russell COUTTS (NZL), America's Cup legend and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2003, will be inspiring the youth sailors of the world when he makes a visit to the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships 2004 in Poland on Monday 12 July.
Russell's appearance as a guest of ISAF in Poland will be a surprise arrival for the young sailors. A brief but for certain impactful visit between two match racing events, Russell's visit in Gydnia, the host venue for the Youth Worlds, will open with a chat with the youngsters over breakfast. A video presentation and what will no doubt be an inspirational talk, covering amongst other sailing topics his America's Cup successes will follow, with Russell open to take questions from the floor. Time to mix with the sailors around the boat park, as the sailors prepare their themselves and equipment for racing, will for many be the highlight as the sailors have the opportunity for a one-to-one chat with their sailing hero. No doubt many will be seeking some top tips from the maestro! The opportunity to meet Russell COUTTS on Monday, will realise a dream for many of the young sailors.

No stranger to the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship, Russell very much cut his teeth on the international racing circuit when twenty-five years ago he participated at the 1979 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Livorno, Italy. Aged 16, competing in the Europe dinghy, Russell put in a top performance to claim the bronze medal, marking New Zealand's sixth medal across the history of the Championship. Russell returned to the medal fray in 1981 in Sines, Portugal and claimed the gold medal in the boy's single-handed dinghy event using the Laser dinghy, which was followed in the same year by a gold medal at the Finn World Championship. As a past youth sailor, Russell well knows that the huge experience gained and positive effect, not only from the competition but also the camaraderie amongst the sailors, will have a lifelong impact on the sailors at the Youth Worlds.

Three years after his gold medal at the Youth Worlds, Russell was on the start line for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, where he repeated his performance to take a gold in the men's single-handed dinghy event in the Finn, an achievement not yet equaled by a New Zealand sailor. In 1992, it was into the fleet/match racing event at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona sailing the Soling.

Looking to earlier days, Russell began to sail when he was 6 on a P-Class, New Zealand's kids most popular dinghy. He also played golf intensely but decided rather early to specialize in sailing. He dreamed of the America's Cup at a time when it was almost unknown in New Zealand.

After winning the gold medal in 1984, Russell then concentrated on match racing. In duel after duel across the world, he won over 20 ISAF Grade 1 match races from 1989 to 1996. He remained world ISAF World Number One for 22 consecutive months, and for 35 months all told, as well as winning 3 world titles during the same period.

The America's Cup was the next step on this spectacular honour's list. He was contacted by Michael FAY, who asked him to be the helmsman of "Black Magic". In San Diego, this "genius helmsman", as many say, led Black Magic 37 times to victory with only a single defeat and brought the Cup to New Zealand.

At 38, after victoriously defending the Cup with Team New Zealand in 2000 in Auckland, Russell joined Team Alinghi with his long time sailing partners Brad BUTTERWORTH, Warwick FLEURY, Simon DAUBNEY, Dean PHIPPS and Murray JONES.

The rest is history. Alinghi became the first challenge to ever win the Americas Cup on its first attempt. With the victory, Russell became the all time winning skipper in the America's Cup Match. He won 14 races without a loss, adding the five wins of 2003 to the nine he earned with Team New Zealand in the 1995 and 2000 campaigns, surpassing Dennis CONNER for total victories and Charlie BARR for most without a loss. His third consecutive America's Cup victory ties him with Harold VANDERBILT and Charlie BARR. Alinghi also became the only syndicate to have won the America's Cup on it's first attempt.

In November 2003, ISAF recognized the achievements of Russell by honouring him with the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award. This was the second time Russell had been honoured by the world of sailing, having previously received the ISAF World Sailor of the Year Award in 1995.

On being presented with the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award trophy, Russell commented:

"May it be, rather than an achievement, a source of inspiration for the younger generation of sailors."

Winning and Coutts go hand in hand. From his early days competing at the ISAF Youth Worlds, to winning medals at the Olympic Games and sailing on the world match racing circuit, Coutts has always been on top.

The Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship will formally open this evening with the traditional "mixing of the waters". Racing in Poland starts tomorrow, 10 July, with 12 races scheduled in each of the seven events. Racing concludes on Friday 16 July. The ISAF website will bring you the latest reports and results from the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship.

Skipper & Executive Director of Alinghi
Born on March 1st, 1962
New Zealand
America's Cup
2003 Winner Team Alinghi (5 to 0)
2000 Winner Team New Zealand (5 to 0)
1995 Winner Black Magic in San Diego (37 victories, 1 loss)
Olympic Games
1984 Gold Medal in Finn Class at the Los Angeles Olympic Games
Match Racing
1996 World Champion
1996 Winner, Brut Sailing Series
1996 Winner, Trophée Fabergé
1994 Ranked # 1 on the ISAF MR Rankings
1993 World Champion
1992 World Champion
Other Titles
2001 World title, 12mJI, "South Australia"
2001 World title, Farr 40, "Alinghi", Skipper E. Bertarelli
2001 1st Swedish Match Cup, Marstrand
1993 Winner, Admiral's Cup, "Pinta"
1981 Finn Class World Champion
2003 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award
2000 Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit
1995 Commander of the British Empire (CBE)
1995 ISAF World Sailor of the Year
1984 New Zealand Yachtsman of the Year
ISAF Secretariat
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