RC 44

2010 September 7

One-design racer

The name Russell Coutts is well known to all racing sailors due to his involvement in racing at the world's highest levels and most recently as the CEO of the successful BMW/Oracle America's Cup effort. But we don't usually associate Mr. Coutts with being a designer. Design credit for the RC 44 is given to Coutts Justin Design. The concept, according to the spec sheet I have, is for "a light displacement racing yacht designed to be fast downwind and powerful upwind." Nothing very new there but the boat they have designed is rather unique in its exclusive focus on professional team day racing and its extremely detailed set of one-design rules.

This racer is designed to fit onto a canting trailer that will allow it to be shipped in a container. The beam is 9 feet for an L/B of 4.87, indicating a very narrow boat. The D/L is low at 67.42 and the ballast-to-displacement ratio is very high at 62%, not including the crew. Max crew weight is listed at 1,496 pounds. When I look at the hull in plan form I notice that max beam is quite far forward. This may be to have max beam occur at the shroud base. You see this in the old America's Cup boats. But there is no indicator of chainplates on the drawings so this is only a guess. But in many ways this design resembles one of the late AC monohulls, so it's probably a good guess. I don't have any hull lines but I have seen enough photos of this boat to see that the topsides are very slab and BWL is very close to beam max and almost, almost, a chine at the BWL. There are 8.5 inches of forward overhang and 5 feet, 8 inches of overhang aft to clean up the wake in light stuff and to extend the sailing length in a breeze. The sugar scoop stern removes for shipping. Draft is 9 feet, 6 inches, while the fin has a 15% thickness ratio and the bulb is "squashed" somewhat to lower the VCG. There is a keel trim tab on the trailing edge and a weed cutter on the leading edge. The fin itself is built from carbon pre-preg material and post-cured under high pressure and temperature in an autoclave. Rudder blade and shaft are one-piece carbon fiber.

The deck layout of the RC44 is very much like an AC boat. There is a single coffee grinder for all the sheets. The mainsheet traveler is forward of the twin wheels and there is a large central mainsheet winch just forward of the traveler. All halyards and halyard controls are located right at the base of the mast at the deck. All hardware is by Harken. Each and every single piece of rig and deck hardware in spelled out in detail in the one-design class rules. You can wear the shoes of your choice, I think.

I can't find any basic rig dimensions but the rules are very specific on sail dimensions so I'll use the actual class sail areas for SA/D. Using the light air jib I get an SA/D of 56.67. That's a lot of horsepower per pound of boat. To put the rig into perspective, consider that the big gennaker has 1,722 square feet of area. The mainsail alone has about the same amount of area that you would find in the total rig of boats weighing twice as much. The mast is in two sections so it can be easily shipped. Shrouds are PBO with their turnbuckles below the deck. The carbon sprit is retractable. There is a hydraulic ram tensioner on the headstay.

This is not a new design. The RC44 has already established a fleet of all-star international professional crews that race these boats all over the world and there are at least 24 boats in the fleet. However, the fleet recently began expanding its North American presence so hopefully we'll be seeing more of it here. The RC 44 is built at the Pauger boatyard in Hungary.

LOA 43'10"; LWL 37'5"; Beam 9'; Draft 9'6"; Displacement 7,850 lbs.; Ballast 4,850 lbs.; Sail area 1,280 sq. ft.; SA/D 56.67; D/L 67.42; L/B 4.87; Auxiliary Volvo 20-hp; Fuel 3 gals.

RC 44 Class, Ch. Sablet 4, 1110 Morges, Switzerland, 41 76-324-05-39, www.rc44.com. In the U.S., contact Dee Smith Yacht Racing, 3545 Rockway Ave., Annapolis, MD 21403, (443) 951-1425, www.deesail.com.

OBE: $600,000
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