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22 February 2006, 11:28 am
COUTTS To Star At New Dubai Match Race
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Dubai Match Race Challenge 2006
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Three-times America's Cup winning skipper Russell COUTTS (NZL) will go head-to-head in Dubai, UAE next month with Danish star Jes GRAM-HANSEN in the first of a new series of international sailing events planned for the Emirate.
The Dubai Match Race Challenge marks the competitive debut of the Russell Coutts 44 racing boat which will give rise to a new one design fleet racing championship event in 2007.

The high performance composite-built RC 44 is being constructed to stringent CouttsJustin design specifications by Dubai-based manufacturers V1 Advanced Composite Technologies and Pauger Carbon from Budapest.

Its competitive launch in the Dubai Match Race Challenge on 16-17 March reinforces the relationship between V1 and the event organizers, Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC), who are working together to establish Dubai as a leading venue for match racing.

A Spectacular View

The Dubai Match Race Challenge will feature six 20-minute rounds of close combat match racing on a virtual square course set between Dubai International Marine Club, its beachside Le Meridian resort hotel and the Palm Jumeirah breakwater. This setting is emerging as a unique stage for top class international sailing, giving spectators a close up view of the world's top match racing teams in competitive action.

'We're delighted to be working with Dubai International Marine Club to stage one of the highlights of our sailing calendar, and to be showcasing a new boat,' said Martin BENDER, Managing Director of V1 Advanced Composite Technologies.

Looking Ahead

Ahead of the boat's competitive debut in the Dubai Match Race Challenge, it has already been confirmed that a new, one design class fleet racing RC 44 Championship will be staged in Dubai from 11-18 March 2007.

'This new event will be broadcast live on TV in the Middle East and have a worldwide audience, and it will be one of our most prestigious events of the year,' said Saeed HAREB, Managing Director of DIMC.

Impressive Line Up

Skippering a crew featuring Swiss Julien DI BIASE, Croatian Stipe VITALJIC, Italian Massimo SIRENA and Danes Chresten PLINIUS and Peter POULSEN, COUTTS will be aiming to add to his impressive haul of major career successes in the Dubai Match Race Challenge.

GRAM-HANSEN, one of the rising stars of match racing, will be supported by fellow-Dane Rasmus KOSTNER, Malta's Chris DOUGALL, and Italy's Alberto BAROVIER, Michele PAOLETTI and Vasco VASCOTTO, who has won more world sailing titles than any other Italian.

Extensive CVs

COUTTS first came under the international spotlight by capturing the ISAF Youth World Championship in 1981, and three years later won an Olympic gold medal in the Finn in Los Angeles, USA.

His three America's Cup victories as skipper in 1995, 2000 and 2003 with a 14-0 winning record, makes him the most successful America's Cup helmsman.

He has won three ISAF Match Racing World Championships and recorded numerous international match race wins and World Championship victories. He has twice been the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 1995 and 2003.

GRAM-HANSEN has made a name for himself on the Swedish Match Tour (now succeeded by the World Match Racing Tour), finishing third overall in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003, and was runner-up in the 2002 ISAF Match Racing World Championship. VASCOTTO has captured 22 Italian Championships, seven European titles and 14 World Championships. He has also won five Giri d'Italia (Around Italy distance race), the Admirals Cup in 1999, and two ISAF bronze medals.

Dubai is staging its second high profile match racing event inside three months. Introduced last month, the ISAF Grade 3 Dubai Match Race saw eight teams competing aboard another high performance racer from V1 Advanced Composite Technologies, the V1/Lutra-30 Sport Boat, which will also be used for April's ISAF Nations Cup Regional Final in Dubai.

The series was an outstanding success, with Germany beating India in a closely contested final witnessed by ISAF President Gorän PETERSSON (SWE).

Tony LEWIS (As Amended by ISAF). Image, The new Dubai Match Race Challenge marks the competitive debut of the Russell Coutts 44 racing boat:© Tony LEWIS
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