The RC44 will make its debut at next month's Dubai Match Racing Challenge 24/2/06

Three-times Americas Cup winning skipper Russell Coutts will go head-to-head in Dubai next month with Danish star Jes Gram-Hansen in the first of a new series of international sailing events planned for the Emirate.

The Dubai Match Race Challenge marks the competitive debut of the Russell Coutts 44 racing boat which will give rise to a new one-design fleet racing World Championship event in 2007.

The high performance composite-built RC 44 is being constructed to stringent CouttsJustin design specifications by Dubai-based manufacturers V1 Advanced Composite Technologies and Pauger Carbon from Budapest.

Its competitive launch in the Dubai Match Race Challenge on 16-17 March reinforces the relationship between V1 and the event organisers, Dubai International Marine Club, who are working together to establish Dubai as a leading venue for match racing.

The Dubai Match Race Challenge will feature six 20-minute rounds of close combat match
racing on a virtual square course set between Dubai International Marine Club, its beachside
Le Meridian resort hotel and the Palm Jumeirah breakwater.

Skippering a crew featuring Swiss Julien di Biase, Croatian Stipe Vitaljic, Italian Massimo Sirena and Danes Chresten Plinius and Peter Poulsen, Coutts will be aiming to add to his impressive haul of major career successes in the Dubai Match Race Challenge.

Jes Gram-Hansen, one of the rising stars of match racing, will be supported by fellow-Dane Rasmus Kostner, Malta’s Chris Dougall, and Italy’s Alberto Barovier, Michele Paoletti and Vasco Vascotti, who has won more world sailing titles than any other Italian.