Valencia Sailing talks to Russell Coutts
Valencia Sailing caught up with Russell Coutts and talked about Artemis, the TP52's and, of course, the America's Cup. Artemis is standing 6th overall this morning after a couple of less than ideal races yesterday.
Valencia Sailing: How was yesterday’s racing?
Russell Coutts: It was a fantastic day for racing with really, really good conditions. From our perspective, we started the day well and we finished with two mediocre races.
Valencia Sailing: You scored a second, a ninth and a seventh, not the best results for a team of your caliber. You are sixth overall now, so what went wrong in the last two races?
Russell Coutts: We had some problems onboard in the second one, we need to get used to that boat and in the last one we didn’t get to the starting line that well and committed a few errors. You know, there is a fine line between finishing fourth or seventh and at this level even minor mistakes cost you a couple of places.
Valencia Sailing: What’s your feeling about the new Artemis in terms of speed and performance?
Russell Coutts: I think it’s a really nice boat, I really like it, it’s nicely designed. A nice boat without any doubt.
Valencia Sailing: How does it compare to the rest of new yachts in the TP52 fleet, such Artemis and Emirates Team NZ?
Russell Coutts: Very heavy with our boat. It’s an all round performing boat and I like it.
Valencia Sailing: We’ve only sailed 4 races in the 2009 AUDI Medcup. Is it too early to make any predictions about the potential winner?
Russell Coutts: Team New Zealand and Quantum are the most consistent and you would obviously expect them to be in the front at the end of the season.
Valencia Sailing: You are both an accomplished sailor and a successful yacht designer. With the TP52 box rule probably changing next year, what would you like to see?
Russell Coutts: I think the sail plans are one of the things they could look at. It’s pretty clear the boats should have dual backstays and quite a lot more area on the mainsail.
Valencia Sailing: Should the boat become bigger, a TP55 or TP60?
Russell Coutts: No, not at all. The boat is fine, it only needs a little bit more power; in light winds quite more power. They could take some of internal ballast out and increasing the weight of the bulb could be a nice feature.
Valencia Sailing: Is it wise to change the boat under the difficult financial situation we are currently experiencing?
Russell Coutts: You could just make changes that make these boats more fun to sail, without compromising the existing boats that are here. You don’t want to make a change that turns all these yachts here obsolete and useless. You can always make very good changes.
Valencia Sailing: You wouldn’t make them catamarans or trimarans, for example?
Russell Coutts: [Laughs] No, definitely monohulls. It’s good racing too. There is nothing with the hull shape. They could get some improvements with the rig and maybe the distribution of weight on the boat.
Valencia Sailing: Talking about trimarans we can’t help asking THE question. What’s your feeling about the latest court decision in the NY State Supreme Court?
Russell Coutts: I’m really not surprised by the decision. The decision was already made prior to that and, of course, that court is not able to overturn the previous order. The result was not really unexpected.
Valencia Sailing: The 33rd America’s Cup is now definitely scheduled to take place next February and Alinghi will choose a venue. Do you think it could be Valencia?
Russell Coutts: Well, if they want to race in the northern hemisphere, it has to be Valencia. I think it’s a good option for Alinghi and us. It would certainly be a cost-effective solution. Valencia is a good place to sail.
Valencia Sailing: The weather in Valencia in February is completely unstable and there is no clear pattern. Does this put you in a disadvantage, if of course Alinghi picks Valencia?
Russell Coutts: You can optimize your yacht for different conditions, depending on the size of sails you put or what size of mast you configure the boat with and so forth. There are options you have in order to improve your performance in different conditions, if you have strong winds or light winds. After all, that’s part of sailing. Look at this regatta. One day we have 2 knots and the next one 18.
Valencia Sailing: Will you be aboard the trimaran during the match?
Russell Coutts: I’m not sure and I think that at this stage, probably not. Obviously, we have sailors that are focused on multihull sailing and we will pick the best team on the day.
Valencia Sailing: Last but not least. If BMW Oracle wins the 33rd match will you hold the next conventional edition in Valencia?
Russell Coutts: That’s not my decision, it’s Mr Ellison’s decision but he has already said that he thinks it would be wise to try and hold a conventional America’s Cup as soon as possible and Valencia has all the facilities and as a result it’s probably the best-positioned venue to have the next Cup as soon as possible.