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Russell Coutts

Russel Coutts is only the second non-American skipper ever to win the America's Cup. In 1995, he took Team New Zealand's "Black Magic" to an unprecedented 37-1 record in the challenger trials, and a stunning five straight victories over Team Dennis Conner and Young America in the America's Cup match.

After finishing as runner-up to Italy's Il Moro di Venzia in the 1992 challenger trials, Coutts brought the America's Cup home to a hero's welcome in Auckland, where a staggering 85 percent of the country had watched the 1995 Cup finals on television.

In honor of his achievement, he was named the 1995 World Sailor of the Year by the International Yacht Racing Union, and Queen Elizabeth | named him Commander of the British Empire (CBE), an honor second only to full knighthood.

His America's Cup victory capped what was already an extraoridnary career for a sailor in his early 30s. This 33-year-old New Zealander's sailing record includes the longest reign as the world's No. 1 ranked match-race skipper (22 months), two world match racing championships (1992, 1993), the top prize winner in the Brut Sailing Series, more than a dozen international match-race wins, and One Ton Cup and Two Ton Cup victories.

Coutts earned his reputation as a fierce competitor in 1993 with one of the most sensational battles ever seen in international match racing. Up against Australian rival Peter Gilmour, Coutts fought his way back from a 3-0 deficit to win the Steinlager Logan Cup, 4-3.

Earlier, Coutts' determination to win became the stuff of legend as it drove him to sail, against medical advice, in the 1984 Olympics. He overcame an infection and the world's best sailors to win the gold medal in the single-handed Finn class.


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