Most of us sail for the fun of it. A small number make a living crewing for wealthy owners in classes like the TP52s, RC44s and MC38s. A very small number, like Jimmy Spithill, Tom Slingsby and Nathan Outteridge, make big money in the rarified air of the America's Cup. But even their seven digit salaries pale into insignificance alongside Sir Russell Coutts, CEO of Oracle Team USA, who has been listed on New Zealand's NBR Rich List with an estimated worth of $55 million.
Coutts was listed at number 200 on the list, with this explanation:
Sir Russell Coutts – $55m
New Zealand's highest-profile international yachtsman sits at number 200 on this year's Rich List, with his estimated net worth unchanged from last year's $55m.
Coutts was chief executive of this year's America's Cup regatta, which was held in Bermuda.
He has spent his life in the industry. In 1979, as a 17-year-old, he won the national Laser title. Two years later he was the single-handed world youth champion.
In 1983 he made his mark in the difficult Finns, a single-handed yacht with a whippy mast. He won the Olympic gold medal in the class at Los Angeles in 1984, overcoming painful salt-water boils on his backside.
In 1992, juggling his commitments to world match racing championship as well as preparing for his Olympic campaign, Coutts was a revelation. He won the Steinlager/Logan Cup, the Omega Gold Cup in Bermuda, the Nippon Cup and the World Match Racing Championship and the following year was just as dominant.
The current chief executive of Oracle Team USA, Coutts has won the America's Cup five times. He skippered New Zealand to victory in 1995 and 2000 and Switzerland in 2003 before switching to a chief executive role with Oracle and winning again in 2010 and 2013.