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Interview with Mathias and Russell Coutts during the O'Pen Bic World Championship

by Leonardo Omezzolli 4 Aug 09:10 BST 31 July - 5 August 2017
Mathian and Russell Coutts during the O'pen Bic Worlds at Lake Garda © Jacopo Salvi

Leonardo Omezzolli caught up with Mathias and Russell Coutts during the O'Pen Bic World Championship at Circolo Vela Arco to talk about the class, sailing on Lake Garda and whether Mathias would like to follow in his father's footsteps.

Leonardo: Hello Russell and Mathias, welcome to Circolo Vela Arco. Let's start with you, Russell: what's it like, following your son's performance and seeing him excel right at the beginning of this O'Pen Bic World championship?

Russell: I think this championship is fantastic and I like most of the young sailing teams here. Having all these young athletes around helps keeping young. It's good to see Mathias excel, but it's also great to see all these kids sailing and the passion they have for it.

Leonardo: And what about you Mathias, how do you feel having your father, both Olympic winner and winner of the America's Cup, as trainer?

Mathias: He is quite a good trainer. He taught me all I know about sailing, and every day I learn new things from him.

Leonardo: How do you feel about your results after these first few days of racing? Are you confident of victory?

Mathias: I'm not worrying about my position too much. This is my first championship and I'm having a lot of fun. The thing I like most is that I'm getting to know a lot of new people. There are a lot of great sailors in this competition.

Leonardo: How about you Russell. How do you think Mathias is doing?

Russell: He surprised me, that's for sure. He's doing great, but it's not just a matter of results, there's also learning and the enjoyment of the whole thing. Because when kids this age learn a lot about the sport they will develop a passion for it and fall in love with it.

Leonardo: What do you think about the Lake, both in itself and in regards to sailing?

Mathias: It's a fantastic place for sailing. Here you get all kinds of days, both calm and with strong wind, so it's a great place to learn. And once you are finished sailing you can go ski in the mountains. It's a great lake and I'm enjoying everything about it.

Russell: This is one of my favourite places to come in the world, one of the best for sailing. You have a good northerly wind in the morning, then you can go have lunch and in the afternoon you can get out again on the water with a strong south wind (Ora) and sail for the whole afternoon. It's really great and the facilities are very good too. I'm also impressed by the number of boats on the lake, especially Lasers and 29ers but also other types of boats.

Leonardo: Now, a more technical question for you, Russell. You have raced on several types of different craft, what do you think about the O'pen Bic?

Russell: The O'Pen Bic is a good boat for learning. It has classic rigging which really makes kids learn a lot about how to sail a boat: what they learn on the O'Pen Bic they will carry with them on all other boats. It's a good boat for young sailors.

Leonardo: Is there any chance it will grow to reach the following the Optimist class has?

Russell: Yes I think so. I think people are realizing that the O'Pen Bic is very good, especially for those kids too grown up for the Optimist, because the O'Pen Bic is almost the natural procession for them if they want to keep sailing alone. But I think there is also a place for a boat for two, because not everyone likes to sail solo.

Leonardo: Mathias, how do you feel about the O'Pen Bic? What's it like for you?

Mathias: It's a great boat to learn and, as dad said, you can capsize without having to empty it of water, so it's fun.

Leonardo: What type of craft would you like to sail on in the future?

Mathias: I would like to go into the Moths. I recently had the chance to see it in action and I think it's great.

Leonardo: Would like to compete in the America's Cup one day?

Mathias: Yes of course!

More information and full results from the O'Pen Bic World Championship can be found at worlds2017.openbicclass.org