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Since 1970 it has been the tradition that Royal Ulster Yacht Club in Bangor on Belfast Lough, presents the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup to the America's Cup Challenger's Yacht Club. When the first Challenger series was run in that year, RUYC decided it would be a fitting tribute to Sir Thomas's memory to present a trophy to the winner of the challenger series. He had challenged five times with his yachts, all called Shamrock, through Royal Ulster as he was not admitted to the elite Royal Yacht Squadron until 1931, shortly before his death. It is said that both King Edward VII and King George V shared their interest in yachting with Lipton and enjoyed his company.
The club, therefore, commissioned the Sir Thomas Lipton Memorial Cup.

But how was this presentation going to be possible during the pandemic? Through a stroke of luck, it did go ahead on 24th February. That's where the man in Auckland came in. Member John Taylor and his wife Charlotte live in the city, and John agreed to present the Trophy to the Challenger; the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team entered through Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club Sicily. John is well known in sailing circles in Belfast Lough, and pre-Covid regularly spent the summer in Bangor.

Lipton was of Irish parentage and lived in Glasgow. After humble beginnings and years of working in America, in 1870, he established Lipton's Market in that city. This enterprise was successful, and a chain of groceries followed. When his empire had grown to 300 stores, he entered the tea trade and established the Lipton brand.

Royal Ulster presented the Trophy to the Challenger; the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team entered through Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club SicilyRoyal Ulster presented the Trophy to the Challenger; the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team entered through Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club Sicily Photo: COR/Borlenghi

The first occasion the Trophy was presented was to Gretel II entered through Royal Perth Yacht Club. This was presented by Karl Smyth, Honorary Secretary RUYC at the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, Newport, Rhode Island. Since 1970 RUYC has presented the Trophy on 13 occasions. Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron are the current holders, and they were first presented with this Cup in 1995, then again in 2007, 2013 and 2017, so they have been the custodians for 18 years, making them the longest holder.

In recent months, RUYC Hon Secretary Garth Maxwell built a working relationship with Hayden Porter, CEO of RNZYS, who also sits on the America's Cup organising Committee in New Zealand. John and Charlotte Taylor are well known in both yacht clubs in Bangor, where pre-COVID-19, he regularly spent his summer months.

RNZYS hosted a small dinner on the night of the 24th February, sponsored by Prada, to facilitate the presentation of the Sir Thomas Lipton Cup by RUYC. The Ida Lewis Yacht Club also presented their Pell Cup, a trophy they have presented to the Challenger since 1958.

The small but exclusive guest list includes Francesco Longanesi Cattani - Prada, Agostino Randazzo-Commodore - Circolo Della Vela Sicilia Yacht Club, Max Sirena – Director and Skipper Luna Rosso Prada Pirelli, Aaron Young – Commodore, RNZYS, Hayden Porter – CEO, RNZYS, Simon Davidson – Commodore, Ida Lewis Yacht Club, and of course, John Taylor - all with their respective partners.

A letter of congratulations from HRH The Duke of Gloucester, Commodore of Royal Ulster, was also sent.

Published in America's Cup

The Champagne was flowing for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli who sailed to victory today in the PRADA Cup Final. The Italians winning the Series 7-1 over INEOS TEAM UK, now move onto the America’s Cup Match, the ultimate goal four years in the making, starting in 12 days time.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli outraced the British team in today’s medium to light conditions that proved to favour the Italians so markedly.

For the second time in their six attempts, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have their name included in the exclusive list of just 36 challengers in 170 years that have made it to the America’s Cup itself.

As happened 21 years ago, the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand will face Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on the Hauraki Gulf to decide who will win the oldest trophy in international sport.

Sir Ben Ainslie's Team INEOS UK were beaten so markedly in the lighter airsSir Ben Ainslie's Team INEOS UK was beaten so markedly in the lighter airs Photo: Studio Borlenghi

PRADA Cup Final - Race 7

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat INEOS TEAM UK

Start: 1615
Port: GBR
Stbd: ITA
Course: A
Axis: 037
Length: 1.95nm
Current: 0.2 knots @ 007
Winner: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli 1:45

All eyes were on the start. Based on the previous races in this PRADA Cup Final it was the opening stages of the race that frequently defined the result.

After facing five losses in a row, INEOS TEAM UK had shown that winning the start in race 6 could lead to winning the race overall.

Today, as the British led into the start line after having escaped the clutches of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli just moments before, the early advantage was to INEOS TEAM UK. But it didn’t take long for that to change.

With both boats heading off the line on starboard, Luna Rossa was to windward in a tricky position as they tried to keep the pace on while sailing in the disturbed air off the back of the British boat.

As both boats headed out towards the left-hand side of the course it was clear that the Italians had the extra mode that has been talked about during previous races allowing them to sail higher than their opponent while maintaining the same speed.

As both boats tacked at the boundary, Luna Rossa was still to leeward but now they were ahead. Their second punch was about to be delivered.

As they squeezed their way up to INEOS TEAM UK they did so without losing any pace once again and eventually forced the British to tack. Advantage Luna Rossa.

Complete confirmation came when the pair came back together the next time, Luna Rossa was clearly ahead.

From there the pedal went down to the floor on the Italian boat. They passed through the first gate 16 seconds ahead. By the bottom, they had increased this to 0:21 and by the top, for the second time they were now 1min 7sec ahead. Luna Rossa was running away with this race.

Meanwhile, since shortly after the start the wind speed had dropped from 15 knots at Rangitoto lighthouse to just below 12 knots. INEOS TEAM UK Skipper and Helmsman Sir Ben Ainslie had made it clear after Saturday’s race that this was tricky territory for the British. ‘We know it, they know it, that’s the challenge,” he had said. This race was providing further evidence of this. By the last windward gate, Luna Rossa was 1 min 45 sec ahead of the British and only a disaster would deny them a sixth victory.

But the last leg of the race was executed as perfectly as the previous five and they crossed the line the same distance ahead. Just one more race and the PRADA Cup would be theirs. For the British, they had to win every race from here to do the same. The next race would be absolutely crucial.

“We’re super happy, for sure we are very close but we have to stay focussed,” said Luna Rossa’s co-helmsman Francesco Bruni after the finish. “We definitely have the high mode.”

For the British Skipper, things had clearly got even tougher.

“We’ve got to win every race from here so it gets pretty simple,” he said. “We’ve been trying everything we can to get on top of it, but clearly at the moment we can’t.”

Golden moment for Italy's Luna Rossa on her way to PRADA Cup final victory Photo: Studio BorlenghiGolden moment for Italy's Luna Rossa on her way to PRADA Cup final victory Photo: Studio Borlenghi 

Prada Cup Final - Race 8

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat INEOS TEAM UK

Start: 1715
Port: ITA
Stbd: GBR
Course: A
Axis: 030
Length: 1.85 nm
Current: 0.3 knots @ 007
Wind 12 knots - 025 degrees
Winner: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – 0:56

Seconds before the pre-start action began, the on board communications aboard INEOS TEAM UK between Skipper Ben Ainslie and his tactician Giles Scott suggested that they had a new move to try.

As Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli came charging into the start box on port, the British were quick to gybe as they entered the zone and chased the Italians out towards the right-hand side of the pre-start zone.

As the boats arrived at the right hand boundary Luna Rossa tacked around while INEOS TEAM UK gybed. The result was to create separation between the two, but it didn’t last for long.

As the pair headed towards the start line INEOS TEAM UK were ahead and to windward, Luna Rossa were chasing from to leeward, but both were early for the start. Slowing down was going to prove tricky, there was very little runway left, especially for the British.

Seconds before the start, INEOS TEAM UK tacked onto port and just managed to stay behind the line but most importantly just managed to cross Luna Rossa who were on starboard and had right of way.

But the close quarters action had seen Luna Rossa start with a penalty as they headed out on starboard leaving the British to head off on port tack.

But, despite having won the start and the first part of the upwind leg, when the pair came back together for the second time the advantage had switched, Luna Rossa were ahead as they crossed on starboard.

From here there was little engagement with each boat taking opposite sides of the course. As they came into the top gate Luna Rossa were on port and took the right-hand mark, INEOS TEAM UK took the left-hand mark. For the initial part of the leg, the British had more breeze on the left-hand side of the course allowing them to stay close. The physical distance on the water was 160 m.

“We’re going to have to do something special here,” said Skipper Ainslie to his tactician over the onboard comms.

Meanwhile, the breeze was staying steady at 12 knots.

By gate 2 Luna Rossa had maintained their leading margin of 12 secs as they rounded the left-hand mark. In an effort to keep splitting from their opponents, INEOS TEAM UK took the right-hand side of the gate.

On the second upwind leg the racing took place mainly on the right hand side of the course, great for the spectators.

After the fourth leg, as the pair approached gate 3 Luna Rossa had increased their lead. As they rounded the left-hand mark they were now 34 secs ahead a distance in the water of around 400 m.

Another lap of the course and the Italian lead had grown and never looked likely to reduce. By the finish, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were 56 sec ahead. They had scored their seventh victory. They had now won the Prada Cup trophy.

Having resisted high fives and open displays of celebration in the races leading up to this point, now there was no holding back, the Italians were over the moon.

d“We kept the mistakes down, stayed calm, made good decisions and the boat did the job,” said co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill.
“Pretty good day at the office,” he then said when asked on TV how he felt, clearly struggling to shake off the understated approach that had served them through the final.

Francesco Bruni was now less reserved.
“Fantastico!” he yelled into the camera, “It’s a great day for us and for Luna Rossa and it’s a great day for Italy. It was a tough final and we are in for a very good fight in the America’s Cup.”

Sir Ben Ainslie, INEOS TEAM UK Skipper & Team Principal congratulated his opponents. “Well done to Luna Rossa and well done to Italy. It’s a big deal in Italy to get into the America’s Cup again. So congratulations to the team, to Jimmy and Checco and all the boys, they sailed brilliantly and deserve to take the Final. Hats off to them we are obviously disappointed we didn’t get through but we are to go away, back on the drawing board and see what we can do.”

The 36th America’s Cup Match starts in 12 days on the 6th of March with the first race scheduled to start at 4:00 PM NZT - 0:300 UTC.

Published in America's Cup
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The PRADA Cup Final is not done and dusted yet, with INEOS TEAM UK marking their first point on the scoreboard, there may still be a long way to go.

In the first race of the day, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli resumed racing where it was left last weekend, getting their nose in front at the start and kept the British in their wake to claim a vital fifth point. However, in the second race, Ben Ainslie got his hands on the textbook finally and executed the same game plan to take a convincing first point.

Two more wins is all it will take for the Italians to take the PRADA Cup, but the British team will not give up without a fight. With the teams having pretty even boat speeds the pre-start became the key moment of the whole race, start ahead and most likely will finish ahead.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Photo: COR36/ Studio BorlenghiLuna Rossa Prada Pirelli Photo: COR36/ Studio Borlenghi

PRADA Cup Final - Race 5

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat INEOS TEAM UK

Start: 1615
Port: ITA
Stbd: GBR
Course: E
Axis: 245
Length: 1.82nm
Current: 0.2 knots @ 353
Winner Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – 1:20

Any nervousness that the sea breeze would struggle to develop was dispensed with well before the start with 8-10 knots sweeping across the course area from the south-west. In the pre-race preparations, both teams were foiling comfortably around the racecourse area, the day was on.
Coming into the pre-start duel Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli came in from the right, crossing INEOS TEAM UK who entered on starboard, but would either team risk close engagement and risk coming off their foils?

The opening seconds of the pre-start suggested not as the pair kept their distance but then, as the clock counted down to the start both clearly wanted the right-hand end of the start line.

The British were to windward, a commanding position as they swooped down towards Luna Rossa in the closing seconds. But the Italians had managed their final run into the line perfectly and were able to force the British to alter course and keep clear at a crucial stage in the countdown.

The jury delivered a penalty to the British but both boats were early across the line, the penalties scrubbed each other out. But in the coming together of the two boats, INEOS TEAM UK was deemed to have infringed the boundary around Luna Rossa and was given a penalty. But the story wasn’t over yet.
The pair had split tacks and when INEOS TEAM UK and Luna Rossa came back together for the first time Luna Rossa claimed that the British had gained an advantage from their position. The jury agreed and gave INEOS TEAM UK a second penalty. Now the British had to give away distance to clear it but that proved difficult.

INEOS TEAM UK had got to the better side of the course and kept benefitting from their position making it difficult to scrub off the distance and clear their penalty. By the time they had, Luna Rossa was in the lead.

By Gate 1 it was Luna Rossa that was through first, rounding the right-hand mark 15 seconds ahead. On the downwind leg there were few passing lanes, but INEOS TEAM UK was able to sail slightly deeper to reel in some distance on Luna Rossa taking the advantage from 220 m to 160 m. But their gain was short-lived.

As the race played out the Italians sailed a perfectly executed race aboard a boat that appears to have an extra gear when it comes to the angles that it can sail upwind. As each lap went by the Italian advantage grew and by the finish, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli crossed 1 min 20 sec ahead.


Francesco Bruni - Helmsman, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

"It has been a fantastic race. Jimmy did most of the job in the pre-start working very well the time on distance. The whole team is playing well, the boat is in good shape, we have to keep doing our job and think race by race. At the start, there is a very fine line between staying high and slow and staying too high and too slow, and the latter is when you fall off the foils. We did a good job and Jimmy really kept the boat on the edge."

Sir Ben Ainslie - Skipper & Team Principal, INEOS TAEM UK

"We are just going to keep plugging away; it’s tough and obviously we are struggling in terms of straight lines performance, we have to push harder to make something happened. It was a pretty close start, we got the first cross but they were just sailing away with their actual speed up wind. On the start we wanted the right-hand side for the pressure so knowing they were putting off the pace on straight-line performance, it was worth it taking the risk. I would do the same thing again."

INEOS TEAM UKINEOS TEAM UK Photo: COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

PRADA Cup Final - Race 6

INEOS TEAM UK beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

Start: 1715
Port: GBR
Stbd: ITA
Course: E
Axis: 248
Length: 1.8nm
Current: 0.2 knots @ 353
Wind 8-12knots 225 degrees
Winner INEOS TEAM UK - 0:14

For the second race of the day the breeze had increased slightly. INEOS TEAM UK was first into the pre-start zone and was able to control the start more readily. Two small advantages, but would the British team be able to convert these into an advantage at the start?

As both boats headed towards the start line, positions were reversed from the first start of the day, Luna Rossa was to windward this time with INEOS TEAM UK to leeward and ahead. Despite some aggressive manoeuvring aboard Luna Rossa, INEOS TEAM UK took a narrow advantage at the start, bagging the left-hand end of the line and now able to push out to the extreme left-hand side of the course.

The crucial moment was coming up as both headed out towards the left-hand boundary. Luna Rossa tacked off early allowing the British to continue out to the extreme side of the left-hand side of the course. The pair were neck and neck as they headed back towards the right.

As Luna Rossa came back on starboard INEOS TEAM UK were ahead on port but chose to tack onto starboard underneath them to bounce off the Italians, a classic lee bow tack.
As they approached the top gate for the first time the pair were now separated across the width of the course and it was INEOS TEAM UK that had gained, the distance between them around 50 m.

And when they crossed, INEOS TEAM UK was laying the right-hand mark of gate 1 and rounded 8 seconds ahead of the Luna Rossa – the first time they had been ahead since the PRADA Cup Final had begun.

On the downwind slide the British were now 150 m ahead. Halfway down the leg the margin had grown to 200 m. By the bottom gate, they rounded 21 secs ahead.

INEOS TEAM UK was now starting to change their tactical play by defending their position. Luna Rossa knew it and were tacking frequently in an attempt to force INEOS to do so in the hope that the British would lose some of their distance.

Meanwhile, the sea breeze was climbing slowly but steadily with an average just breaking through 10 knots.

At gate 3 both boats took the left-hand mark, INEOS TEAM UK led by 18 seconds, Luna Rossa had clawed back three seconds, but their gain was short-lived as INEOS TEAM UK opened up their lead to 430 m on the water and it continued to grow. Through gate 4 the British were now 32 secs ahead with one lap to go.

But this race was far from over. A shift in the breeze and a drop in its strength allowed Luna Rossa to make gains on the final upwind leg. INEOS TEAM UK was back under pressure.

Through the final gate INEOS TEAM UK took the right-hand mark, Luna Rossa the left and the distance between them was now just 9secs. Now it was a drag race to the finish, the British needed to defend their position as Luna Rossa attacked.


Jimmy Spithill - Helmsman, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

"The day has shown the boats are very similar. INEOS TEAM UK sailed a great race, but there was not a whole of opportunities, it was one of those races where the lead boat is always able to stretch a little. At the starting line, it’s full coordination, the entire team has to be on the same page. It is very difficult to sail these boats perfectly; there is never a day when you go out and be 100%. We surely have few things from both race that we will be reviewing and we will come back tomorrow stronger."

Sir Ben Ainslie - Skipper & Team Principal, INEOS TEAM UK

"We are very happy with the win, we have been on the wrong side on the last few days. The team did a great job, they just don’t give up they are going to keep fighting all the way, so we got one back, we needed it. I think it seems to be that on 13 knots and above the boats are pretty even, but beneath that we struggle, they know and we know, that is the challenge. I can’t say enough about the team, they have been great. When the wind dies down it’s a tricky situation, Giles did a great job there, we were concerned we might be losing in there."

Prada Cup Final Scoreboard

Published in America's Cup
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After a tense few days, crossed swords and hasty press conferences, racing will resume in the Prada Cup Final on, Saturday 20 February. Race 5 will see Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli facing Ineos Team UK, the race will start from 4 pm local time weather permitting.

A statement from organisers said:

The PRADA Cup Final racing of America's Cup resumes on Saturday 20th of February NZT. Race 5 will see Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli facing INEOS TEAM UK, the race will start from 4:00 PM local time weather permitting.

Race 5 and 6 will be held on Saturday and two races a day will follow until one competitor gets to 7 points winning the PRADA Cup.

COR 36 confirm they want to respect Public Health and the Protocols of the New Zealand Government. COR 36 offered its full support to the local authorities and ACE to implement the Level 2 Alert management plan provided for by the AC36 Event COVID-19 Management On-Land and On-Water Plans suspending the following activities:

  • Main stage - Te Wero Island
  • Simulator
  • Guests hospitality facilities on shore
  • Guests hospitality at sea
  • Pre-race public show
  • Giveaways and gifts distribution

As Auckland is at COVID19 Alert Level 2 the following restrictions apply:

  • Racecourses B & C will not be used for racing, to mitigate the chance of large public gatherings on shore, which are in line with Government Level 2 restrictions.
  • No public viewing opportunities such as dock out shows or public screening of racing in the race village.
  • Including gatherings of no more than 100 people in the America’s Cup Race Village or public spectator vantage points around Auckland.
  • Limited village activations to ensure no more than 100 people.
  • Two metre physical distancing and face masks recommended.
  • All bars, restaurants and cafes surrounding the Race Village can remain open in line with Ministry of Health COVID19 Level 2 Guidelines.
  • The public is reminded to always scan the NZCOVID19 Tracer App.
Published in America's Cup
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The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team is the top point scorer in the Prada Cup and at 4 nil up against Team INEOS UK, the Italian team is the lead Challenger for the America's Cup Match. The postponement of the Cup due to COVID-19 this morning, along with organiser pronouncements, has led the Italian team to issue this statement:

The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team is surprised by the statements published by America’s Cup Event (ACE) and by INEOS Team UK.

From day one of the teams' activities in New Zealand, protocols have been put in place, together with ACE and all government bodies, to allow teams and organizers alike to operate in the different COVID-19 alert levels, enabling them to prepare and race behind closed doors, if need be, as happens in the Formula1, Australian Open and other events; the priority in these contexts is clearly the health of the people involved.

The Challenger of Record has confirmed that it is possible to race in total safety and has also offered full support to ACE and local Authorities for the application of the protocol indicated by the AC36 Event COVID-19 Management On Land and On Water Plans for the Covid-19 alert. There is no reason why teams that are allowed to train during this alert level should not be allowed to race, albeit behind closed doors, according to the same protocol.

The weather conditions for the next few days are ideal to carry out top-level racing.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is ready to race against INEOS Team UK on Friday, February 19th, in compliance to the program of the Prada Cup Finals that which must end no later than February 24th. Even more so, now that the government has taken the decision to go down from Level 3 to Alert Level 2, allowing the regattas to take place in full respect of everyone’s safety.

Published in America's Cup
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In these uncertain times, as the permitted Event Organiser responsible for the delivery of the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA in Auckland under the Host Venue Agreement with NZ Government and Auckland Council, America’s Cup Event Limited remains committed to maintaining as many aspects as possible of the Event as originally planned.

America's Cup Event Chair Tina Symmans said, "As event organisers, we have spent a considerable amount of time since Sunday evening looking at all possible scenarios. Like the majority of events around the country this weekend, the ramifications of running the remainder of the event need to be considered in an environment which is highly uncertain due to the latest COVID-19 concerns."

ACE has consulted with the America's Cup Minister Stuart Nash and senior Council officials and one consideration has been to postpone the current schedule of racing and events in the best interests of the public and all stakeholders given the current COVID-19 environment.

The position of ACE is based on one of two options based on the Government's review of alert levels at 4:30 this afternoon:

  • If the alert levels drop to level 1 in time, then racing will resume this weekend.
  • If the alert level remains at 3 or 2, which obviously entails restrictions in gatherings and difficulties with events, racing and event activations would need to be rescheduled to recommence the PRADA Cup Final on Friday 26 February. To respect the original timeframe scheduled between the Prada Cup Final and the America's Cup Match, Race 1 of the Match would subsequently begin a week later on Saturday 13 March with the intention of racing still being completed by 21 March.

This morning the Challenger of Record (COR36) has made their position very clear in stating their desire to race from tomorrow despite COVID Alert level 3, to complete the PRADA Cup final by the 24th February in accordance with the existing Prada Cup conditions.

They have also stated that if the racing programme cannot be completed by Wednesday (24th) they intend to declare the leading point scorer the winner of the Prada Cup and Challenger for the America's Cup Match. Under the current points situation, that would be Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team.

Published in America's Cup
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As a result of the Government announcement of a Level 3 lockdown in Auckland, initially, for 72 hours, the next scheduled race day on Wednesday has been postponed and the event village will not be open to the public during this time.

America’s Cup Event Ltd will be working with the Authorities and relevant agencies over the next few days to work through the ongoing ramifications.

Luna Rossa hold a 4-0 lead in the best-of-13 series, with two races a day having been scheduled for Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and one on next Monday.

With Luna Rossa only needing three more wins for victory, it is possible, depending on lockdown restrictions, that the final could still conclude within that scheduled timeframe.

However, with the level three restrictions set to be reviewed regularly, it is yet to be decided when racing will continue.

Published in America's Cup
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Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and INEOS TEAM UK squared off yesterday to determine the winner of the PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series and the right to face the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand in the America's Cup next month. 

First day of the PRADA Cup Final was a double for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, with the Italian team taking the lead of the provisional ranking clearly leading both races and appearing just a click faster than the British team.

Still a long way to go to the end being a 13-races series, with the Italians in need of five more wins to go through to the America’s Cup. Ineos Team UK still needing 7 wins.

“Who will win?” has been one question that has been doing the rounds for the past week. With a range of weather conditions over the next few days, the prospect of a quick answer to the most popular question in Auckland seems unlikely, leaving the racing to deliver the answers.

Luna Rossa passed through the first windward gate 1:20 ahead. By the bottom gate they had stretched out to 1:36Luna Rossa passed through the first windward gate 1:20 ahead. By the bottom gate they had stretched out to 1:36 Photo: COR36/ Studio Borlenghi

PRADA Cup 2021 Final - Race 1

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat INEOS TEAM UK

Start: 1617
Port: ITA
Stbd: GBR
Course: A
Axis: 025
Length: 1.69nm
Current: 0.1 knots @ 205
Wind 6-9kts 050 degrees
Winner Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (ITA) – 1:52

The morning’s weather forecast suggested that there could be a delay to racing as the sea breeze took time to build against the gradient breeze. However, the start was only pushed back by two minutes. Once the minimum wind speed requirements were met, the racing was underway.

But while one hurdle had been crossed in getting the opening race of the Prada Cup Final underway, both teams were acutely aware that staying on the foils would be crucial.
As a result, it was perhaps not surprising that neither Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (ITA) who had entered on port and INEOS TEAM UK (GBR) who came in on starboard were inclined to engage in a close-quarters pre-start duel. The risk of coming off their foils was too great. And with just under a minute to go to the start INEOS TEAM UK were the first to do just that as their hull splashed down.

Luna Rossa came close to doing the same, but as they have demonstrated in previous races, the Italian boat is slippery in light winds and got back underway.
As the clock counted down to the start, the Italians remained on their foils, just, their on board comms revealing how carefully they were playing this crucial stage of the race.
As they crossed the start line INEOS TEAM UK were still off their foils. The gap between the two was growing quickly. Perfect for the Italians, painful for the British.

INEOS TEAM UK incurred two boundary penaltiesINEOS TEAM UK incurred the first of two boundary penalties Photo: COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

Indeed, from there, even when the British had got up and running, the distance continued to grow especially as INEOS TEAM UK incurred the first of two boundary penalties.
Luna Rossa passed through the first windward gate 1:20 ahead. By the bottom gate they had stretched out to 1:36. Another lap of the course and the Italians were continuing to deliver a flawless performance in the light conditions and had pulled out to 1:57.

Meanwhile, INEOS TEAM UK had found their feet and stayed on them but with just one lap to go the gap, which was now around 1800m, looked impossible to close down.
And in the end it was, as Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli turned their commanding lead and dominant performance into a win.

Prada Cup Final - Race 2

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat INEOS TEAM UK

Start: 1715
Port: GBR
Stbd: ITA
Course: A
Axis: 035
Length: 1.85nm
Current: 0.4 knots @ 192
Wind 14-17kts 070degrees

Winner Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA) – 0:26

The sea breeze built quickly, white caps were now spread across the course area. Race 2 looked set to be a completely different match.

In the pre-start, INEOS TEAM UK came smoking in on port tack and headed out towards the right-hand side of the pre-start box. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli gybed and followed, a duel looked set. INEOS TEAM UK were leading the charge but they were also early for the start and keen to burn some time.

While the physical gap between the two closed, the start was even, both at pace, both at full speed. If there was an advantage it was to INEOS TEAM UK who were to leeward and slightly ahead, a position that Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli struggled to live with as they sat in the turbulent air off the back of the British. Seconds later they were forced to tack off. Advantage INEOS TEAM UK.

But when the pair came back together, INEOS TEAM UK were on port tack and had to give way, they chose to dip behind Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. In the seconds that followed, with the Italians on port and the British on starboard, it was Luna Rossa that appeared to gain in a slight lift in the breeze. And when the pair came back together this advantage was enough for them to cross in front of the British to pass through Gate 1 with a lead of 11 seconds. INEOS TEAM UK rounded the same mark but gybed shortly after they had rounded. Meanwhile, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli pressed on towards the right-hand side of the course.

Speeds were now into the 43-45kt range with INEOS TEAM UK generally a notch quicker and slightly lower in heading. But by Gate 2 distance between the two had grown to 270m, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli choosing the right-hand mark, INEOS TEAM UK the left.

From the aerial shots is seemed clear that the left-hand side of the course had more breeze, but neither crew needed to be in the air to see this, both talking on their onboard comms about the left-hand side being the favoured route up the course.

Through Gate 3 Luna Rossa had edged out a few more seconds to round 19 seconds ahead as the pair chose opposite marks. Once again, the Italian performance was silky smooth. This time on the downwind leg the speeds were much more closely matched with nothing between them. And in the steady sea breeze, no real opportunity for INEOS TEAM UK to make up the distance.

On the last windward leg, INEOS TEAM UK had hauled back a few metres, but time was running out to reel in the 270m that would be required to get back in touch with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.

At the top Gate 5, Luna Rossa were now 26 seconds ahead as they went around the left-hand mark. The British took the right-hand mark in a bid to try something different once again. But the Italian performance remained solid. A few minutes later they crossed the finish line 26 seconds ahead to take their second win of the day.

 At the top Gate 5 Luna Rossa were now 26 seconds ahead as they went around the left hand markAt the top Gate 5, Luna Rossa were now 26 seconds ahead as they went around the left-hand mark Photo: COR36 / Studio Borlenghi In the steady sea breeze, no real opportunity for INEOS TEAM UK to make up the distancein the steady sea breeze, no real opportunity for INEOS TEAM UK to make up the distance Photo: COR36 / Studio Borlenghi


JAMES SPITHILL - Helmsman Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

"It’s hard every time you go on the water, because for this class of boats we haven’t done a lot of racing. The boys have executed great manoeuvres and we were able to get around and ahead of them.

We have a great boat, a great full package here, and a very good team backing us up. We are confident on our boat, but having said that, we still know there is quite a bit on the table. As I said, we made few mistakes today out there and we go back trying to sharp up on those for tomorrow."

SIR BEN AINSLIE - Team Principal & Skipper INEOS TEAM UK

"The Italians did a good job, they sailed just a bit faster and bit better around the course. Credit to them. We have to go away and think about how we can get a bit more pace, and look at the things we didn’t get quite right.

Luna Rossa are a great team and it’s pretty hard to get past them if they don’t make many mistakes. Course A is a very different one compared to course C, where the wind comes from the land and there are some shifts that allow more lead changes. Let’s see what happens tomorrow."

Click above to watch the video

Today’s races have been held on Race Course A, the Northern playfield in front of thousands of spectator boats. First race was raced with a 6-9 from NNE whereas in the second race the breeze increased up to 17 knots and the top speed reached was 47.92 knots.

The opening two races were held on Race Course A, the Northern playfield in front of thousands of spectator boatsThe opening two races were held on Race Course A, the Northern playfield in front of thousands of spectator boats Photo: COR36/ Studio Borlenghi

Races will resume tomorrow 14th of February at 4:00 PM NZT, two races are planned weather permitting. The PRADA Cup Final is a best-of-13 series with a team needing to win seven races to advance to the America's Cup Match and face the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand on the 6th of March

Prada Cup Final ScoreboardPrada Cup Final Scoreboard

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Dublin Bay based America's Cup fans Will Byrne and Cian Mollen are hosting a National Yacht Club America's Cup Insight talk on Tuesday, February 9th night at 7.30 pm.

As well as the road to the current 36th Cup, the match racing duo will give a breakdown of the boats and racing to date.

Byrne and Mollen have both match-raced on the European circuit over the years as well as in the Oakcliff training centre in New York. Mollen has raced on the World Match Race Tour with Philip Bendon and Byrne runs the match racing at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

Action from the 36th America's Cup World Cup Series between Italy' Luna Rossa (foreground) and UK's Team Ineos Photo: Borlenghi StudioAction from the 36th America's Cup World Cup Series between Italy' Luna Rossa (to leeward) and UK's Team Ineos Photo: Borlenghi Studio

"It’s going to be in more of a forum format to encourage open conversation and input, Byrne told Afloat.

"We will be covering the modern foiling Americas cup, the return to monohulls and the format and racing of the 36th AC. We will then move on to a breakdown of the current teams and their performance on the water. Alongside this, we will look at the boats and design/technology", Byrne says.

Zoom Link for the meet here

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Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli finally got the redemption they were looking for and, scoring four points in a row, win the PRADA Cup Semi-Final.

The Italians started firmly in the driver's seat ahead of the day’s races and needed only two more wins to claim a place in the PRADA Cup Final against INEOS TEAM UK.

The Americans, who had already won their race against time after their AC75 almost sunk less than two weeks ago, had to find some magic to bring PATRIOT back to the performances she had before. They had to win at least one match to keep their Semi-Final alive.

But the Italians won the starts and were just faster, steadier and more confident. Without any real pressure, they didn’t make any mistakes and sailed to two easy wins.

Light winds forecast proved wrong and stable breeze from North East between 11-14 knots allowed the Race Committee to start both races right on time on Course A.

Light winds forecast proved wrong and stable breeze from North East between 11-14 knots allowed the Race Committee to start both races right on time on Course A.Light winds forecast proved wrong and stable breeze from North East between 11-14 knots allowed the Race Committee to start both races right on time on Course A.

Semi-Final Race 3

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat New York Yacht Club American Magic

Start: 1515
Port: ITA
Stbd: USA
Course: A
Axis: 027
Length: 1.8nm
Current: 0.2 knots @ 009
Wind 12kts / 030
Winner: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (ITA) – 0:35

No one needed any convincing as to how important today’s racing was. The pressure was on and if there was a lesson to be learned from yesterday’s racing for the Americans it was that they had to win, or at least be even at the start.

When American Magic delivered a different approach to the pre-start, lining up to leeward of Luna Rossa as both boats headed in towards the start the Americans appeared to have set themselves up for a stronger start.

In the event it was even, American Magic at the pin end, Luna Rossa at the committee boat end, from here it was a drag race to the boundary.

Once there, both boats tacked onto port simultaneously and lined up for another straight line duel, this time towards the right-hand boundary.

But sitting just to windward and astern of the Italians put the Americans in dirty air, a position that they struggled to maintain and a few minutes later they were forced to tack off. This was the first evidence of what would turn out to be a pattern of strong defensive play by Luna Rossa.

By the first gate, Luna Rossa were 13 seconds ahead. By the bottom of the first downwind leg, they had squeezed a few more seconds out to lead by 22 secs.

While there was now a physical distance of around 300m between the two, it was clear that Luna Rossa were taking nothing for granted, tacking to cover each time American Magic tried to break free.

“Keeping the foot on the throat” before they tacked yet again to cover their opponents. Picking the side of the course that they wanted and controlling the situation, this was textbook match racing from the Italians.

By Gate 3 they had stretched out more distance to lead by 41sec, the race looked like it was only going one way. And yet by Gate 4 American Magic had pulled the gap down to 18sec, could they claw back from here?

By the top gate for the last time, the answer was no. Luna Rossa was the faster boat upwind and while Patriot seemed quicker downwind it was not enough for the Americans to pull themselves back into the race.

By the end, Luna Rossa crossed the finish line 35sec ahead. They had sailed another perfect race. One more victory and they would be on for the Prada Cup final, could they smell victory?

“No, no, we don’t smell anything,” said Francesco Bruni after the race. “We don’t smell anything yet!”

Despite the Herculean effort of putting PATRIOT back on the water, American Magic are now eliminated from the PRADA CupDespite the Herculean effort of putting PATRIOT back on the water, American Magic are now eliminated from the PRADA Cup Photo: COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

Semi-Final Race 4

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat New York Yacht Club American Magic

Start: 1615
Port: USA
Stbd: ITA
Course: A
Axis: 038
Length: 1.81nm
Current: 0.1 knots @ 199
Wind 16kts / 035
Winner: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (ITA) – 3:51

This was it, do or die for the American campaign and the chance for the Italians to move straight to the Prada Cup final. The breeze was now up to 16kts throwing another set of conditions into the mix. Could this deliver the difference required to keep the Prada Cup semi-final alive for another day?

This time American Magic were entering the start zone from the left-hand side on port tack and did so with perfect timing and at pace. Next came a hint of a different strategy as American Magic headed out towards the right-hand side of the pre-start zone.

But while this might have been a subtly different opening move, Luna Rossa were still focussed on what had worked before and were aiming to gain control in the pre-start.
As both boats closed in on the starting line as the clock counted down, American Magic were to leeward hoping to force Luna Rossa up, but they weren’t close enough and didn’t have the pace to accelerate into a controlling position. Luna Rossa took the start while American Magic were forced to tack off onto port.

American hopes now were that the right-hand side of the course would be favoured, but at the first cross it was anything but as Luna Rossa passed 130m ahead.
This was not looking good for American Magic, they were on the defensive as Luna Rossa controlled the game perfectly once again. Poised, polished and perfect, it was difficult to see how American Magic could take this race unless the Italians made a mistake. At this stage there was precious little evidence to support anything other than another Italian win.

In fact, things were about to get worse for American Magic as their starboard cant arm refused to go down ahead of a tack onto port. Eventually, it did, but not before they had overstood the layline into Gate 1.

By the time the Americans rounded they were 45sec behind, but their troubles weren’t over yet as technical issues continued. Then came a boundary infringement and a penalty, not that it made much difference, the distance to Luna Rossa was now 1500m.

By the time the Americans rounded Gate 3 Luna Rossa were 2min 42sec ahead. By Gate 4 the time difference was 2min 36, the distance over 2,000m.

Only a disaster on the part of the Italians would reverse what looked like the inevitable. As it happened the breeze had built further and keeping a cool calm and collected was becoming increasingly important to avoid tripping up.

A few minutes later Luna Rossa crossed the finish line to win their fourth race in a row, a win that now launches them to the Prada Cup final against INEOS Team UK.

Victorious Luna Rossa are saluted by the Americans after racing Photo: Studio BorlenghiVictorious Luna Rossa are saluted by the Americans after racing Photo: Studio Borlenghi

Their victory had been well deserved. Since the start of the semi-final, the Italian performance had been pitch-perfect across a wide range of conditions, in just a few days between the Round Robin and the semi-final they had turned their performance around.

"Now for the INEOS boys," was the call as they crossed the finish.

While they would doubtless celebrate this win, the Italian team’s focus had already shifted.

Prada Cup scoresheet


FRANCESCO BRUNI - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Helmsman
"I think American Magic have done a fantastic job being back after what they have gone through. Their boat was a good boat, their team was a great team and it's sad because they are great competitors. If we keep improving the performance of the boat, with this speed, there will be some very good racing against Ben Ainslie and his Britannia. It's all about improving, improving, improving.

In the first race of the day we sailed better upwind, we know that our foils are a little bit bigger and we can play the high mode strategically in some moments of the race. We needed it."

TERRY HUTCHINSON – Skipper & Executive Director of New York Yacht Club American Magic
"The last four races weren't our best but the highest praise for the entire American Magic team overcoming what we did to get the boat back out on the water, it would have been easy to stop.

It's obviously disappointing. There's not a person inside our team that likes losing, so in that you have 135 Type A personalities all pushing for the same goal, the same result.

I think what you saw when Patriot got back out on the water was a high level of resolve from the entire team to make sure not let the programme end like that.
I have nothing but pride for what we've done over the last 3 and half years, obviously our measure is the result sheet so without question that is the most disappointing part, but all we can do is take it on the chin, understand our strengths and weaknesses from here, and move the whole thing forward. If we're fortunate enough to be back in the 37th America's Cup we'll learn from these mistakes and we'll be better for it".

Despite the Herculean effort of putting PATRIOT back on the water, American Magic are now eliminated from the PRADA Cup.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli jump rightfully to the Final against INEOS TEAM UK less than 2 weeks away. The Italians who seem to have find the pace after a limping Round Robin will be hard opponent to beat for the British team.

With such change in fortunes in only 9 days of racing since the first AC75 match on the 17th of December, it’s impossible to predict who will be the 36th America’s Cup Challenger and there is plenty to watch out for in the coming weeks.

The 13-race Final between the two leading teams, will start on the 13th of February, the first team to score seven points will win the PRADA Cup and face the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand.

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago