Russell Coutts

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Sir Russell Coutts
Coutts in 2010
Personal information
Nationality New Zealand
Born (1962-03-01) 1 March 1962 (age 60)
Wellington, New Zealand
Sailing career
Class(es)Finn, AC45
Medal record

Sir Russell Coutts KNZM CBE (born 1 March 1962) is a world champion New Zealand yachtsman.

Early and personal life[edit]

Coutts was educated at Otago Boys' High School (1975–1979) and is a Life Member of Paremata Boating Club, where he learnt to sail in a P class, and the Ravensbourne Boating Club.[1] Coutts has three children, and has been married twice.[1]

In 2021 Coutts criticised the New Zealand Government's response to COVID-19, suggesting that the government was acting like a dictatorship by establishing vaccine mandates and enforcing managed isolation.[2] In February 2022 Coutts announced that he would attend the Convoy 2022 New Zealand anti-mandate protest in Wellington.[3]


Coutts' achievements include a gold medal in the Finn Class in the 1984 Olympic Games, winning the America's Cup five times, the ISAF World Youth championships, three World Match Racing Championships, numerous international match race wins and IOR, IMS and One Design World Championship victories. As skipper/helmsman in America's cup racing, he has a perfect record with 15 wins and no losses (1995, 2000, 2003). He was CEO of the Oracle Team when it won the America's Cup twice with 14 wins and 16 losses (2010, 2013 and 2017 each time with James Spithill as skipper/helmsman).

In 2005 Slovenian designer Andrej Justin designed with input from him a new boat called the RC44; a high performance one design racer 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.[4]

In July 2007, Coutts was named CEO and Skipper of BMW Oracle Racing, sponsored by Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), the United States Challenger to the 2010 America's Cup. He was involved in the pre-match litigation between the challengers Golden Gate Yacht Club and Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), in which the court decided that the GGYC was the rightful Challenger of Record. Cup Defender SNG's team was Alinghi. Coutts' yacht USA beat the defending yacht Alinghi 5 by considerable margins in both races.[5][6]

Most observers stated that USA 17's rigid wing sail had given it a decisive advantage.[7]

Coutts again led the Oracle Team as CEO in the next America's Cup match against Emirates Team New Zealand. This match took place in the bay of San Francisco in September 2013. Oracle managed to come back from 8 races to 1 by winning the following 8 races and to defend the cup in the longest America's cup match ever. Both skipper James Spithill and team owner Larry Ellison praised Coutts' role in the defense of the oldest trophy in sports history.[8][9]


Year Competition Venue Position Event
1983 Finn Gold Cup Milwaukee, USA 13th Finn class
1984 Finn Gold Cup Anzio, Italy 7th Finn class
Olympic Games Long Beach, USA 1st Finn class
1989 IYRU Match Racing World Championship Lymington, UK 7th Match racing
1990 Soling World Championships Medemblik, Netherlands 8th Soling class
IYRU Match Racing World Championship Auckland, New Zealand 5th Match racing
1991 IYRU Match Racing World Championship Hamilton, Bermuda 3rd Match racing
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain 8th Soling class
IYRU Match Racing World Championship Long Beach, USA 1st Match racing
1993 IYRU Match Racing World Championship Perth, Australia 1st Match racing
1996 ISAF Open Match Racing World Championship Dubrovnik, Croatia 1st Match racing
1998 Etchells World Championships Marblehead, USA 2nd Etchells class
2001 12 Metre World Championships Cowes, UK 1st 12 Metre Grand Prix class
Farr 40 World Championships Cowes, UK 1st Farr 40 class
2003 Farr 40 World Championships Porto Cervo, Italy 4th Farr 40 class
ISAF Open Match Racing World Championship Riva del Garda, Italy 6th Match racing
2005 Melges 24 World Championships Key Largo, USA 28th Melges 24 class
2006 Farr 40 World Championships Newport, USA 1st Farr 40 class
2008 TP52 World Championships Lanzarote, Spain 4th TP52 class
2010 Melges 32 World Championships San Francisco, USA 7th Melges 32 class
RC44 World Championships Puerto Calero, Spain 2nd RC44 class
As of 27 September 2015[10]

/>           – 1995 America's Cup / Black Magic (Challenger) / San Diego / Winner (5 to 0) – Skipper & Helmsman


In New Zealand, Coutts has been honoured with appointment as a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 1985 New Year Honours[11] and then elevation to the rank of Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours.[12]

He was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2000 Queen's Birthday Honours,[13] and redesignated as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in August 2009.[14] He has been named ISAF Sailor of the Year twice.[citation needed]

Other awards include:


  1. ^ a b "Russell Coutts -- sailor of fortune". NZ Herald. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  2. ^ "Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Sir Russell Coutts accuses Government of 'dictatorship' in social media post". NZ Herald. Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  3. ^ "Sir Russell Coutts to join Parliament protest heading into eleventh day". Stuff. 17 February 2022. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  4. ^ James Boyd. The RC44 Phenomenon. Sailing World. January 24, 2017
  5. ^ "America's Cup". Archived from the original on 15 February 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  6. ^ "America's Cup". Archived from the original on 17 February 2010. Retrieved 14 February 2010.
  7. ^ "America's Cup". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
  8. ^ "Resurgent Spithill sings Russell Coutts' praises". Stuff. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  9. ^ Yacht Magazin. ""Das war wie ein Märchen" – YACHT.DE". Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Biography". Retrieved 14 February 2016.
  11. ^ London Gazette (Supplement), No. 49970, 28 December 1984; retrieved 10 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 1995". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 6 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Queen's Birthday honours list 2000 (including special list for East Timor)". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 5 June 2000. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  14. ^ "Special honours list 1 August 2009". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 4 July 2020.
  15. ^ "Lorbeer für alle". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 2 July 1994. Retrieved 17 May 2012.

External links[edit]