Ever wondered what it would be like to match race Russell Coutts?

Few people have had the opportunity to go head to head with the world’s most successful America’s Cup skipper Russell Coutts, in a match race and even fewer get to beat him. But in the RC44 class, the head to head is commonplace during the match racing phase of each regatta format. (The first two days see match racing with pro drivers, the next three days are for fleet racing with owners at the helm.)

Riding aboard Chris Bake’s Team Aqua, steered by expert Kiwi match racer Cameron Appleton, I got the chance to see Coutts and Co under pressure, (another rarity), in the pre-start as Appleton put the pressure on his opponent.

Here’s how the pre-start unfolded in what turned out to be a very closely fought race in which Team Aqua won.