BMW Oracle Racing CEO Russell Coutts raises the trophy
after winning the 33rd America's Cup against Alinghi in
Valencia, Spain. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Sir Russell Coutts might have confirmed his status as the
king of the America's Cup but one of his oldest friends expects
the great yachtsman to remain as humble as ever.
Coutts scored sweet revenge yesterday by winning his fourth
America's Cup against former employer Alinghi, which
prevented him from competing in 2007.
The former Dunedin sailor had already won the Auld Mug in
1995, 2000 and 2003, matching the record set by US skipper
Dennis Conner, who won in 1974, 1980, 1987 and 1988.
But there is a small difference: this time around, Coutts
acted as the winning team's CEO and Oracle's giant trimaran
was steered instead by Australian James Spithill, who is
already touted as the man who can claim Coutts' mantle.
The New Zealander is undefeated in the America's Cup.
With Black Magic in 1995, Team New Zealand in 2000 and
Alinghi in 2003, he won the cup each time 5-0.
Yachting commentator Peter Lester said the 33rd America's Cup
would be remembered as a battle of technology, and, as CEO of
BMW Oracle, Coutts deserved much of the credit for the
"Coutts' contribution to this programme has been huge. He
oversaw and masterminded the entire project and made sure he
brought together the best possible team to pull it off," he
Lester believes Coutts has positioned himself as the most
influential figure in the 159-year history of the America's
Allen Garbutt, who teaches at Otago Boys High School - Coutts
is an old boy - and is a long-time friend of the Oracle head,
said Coutts had enhanced his legacy with his latest
"Obviously, this is quite phenomenal.It speaks volumes for
the man's intellect," Garbutt said yesterday.
"But the thing with Russell is he is a very modest person. He
lets his achievements speak for themselves. He doesn't have a
swollen head and, in fact, he's very happy to be out of the
Garbutt sees Coutts around Christmas most years and has got
to know his second wife, Jenny, and their three young
Coutts also has a 21-year-old son, Grayson, from his first
marriage, who is on television screens in a cooking reality
Coutts, a qualified engineer, was just as influential behind
the scenes at Oracle as he would have been at the helm,
"His real interest now is in design. He's found the project
management side of it and the engineering to be fascinating.
"He would have been involved in every major design decision.
What makes Russell quite unique is he can understand
everything about mathematics and engineering and materials.
He also understands the implications for the actual sailing
of the vessel. Very few people would have that breadth of
After Alinghi won the America's Cup in Auckland in 2003,
Coutts wanted to see his responsibilities at the Swiss team