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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

QUOTES FROM THE PRADA CUP FINAL RACE COURSE

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

Published in America's Cup
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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

QUOTES FROM THE RACE COURSE

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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The first day of the PRADA Cup Semi-Final went smooth as silk for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli which scored the first two points on the leader board against New York Yacht Club American Magic that, against all the odds, managed to make the start line after the Round Robin’s dramatic capsize.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli performed two perfect starts followed by two consistent and clean races which they just kept increasing their lead over the Americans who, despite working one miracle by putting PATRIOT back together, couldn’t work another on the water with a tough day playing follow the leader.

With the weather being once again a key player and the SW breeze gusting up to 22 knots at times, a new speed record has been broken today as American Magic hit on 53.31 knots (almost 100 km/h) on race 1.

For American Magic, getting the boat around the course safely had allowed them to build confidence in both their boat and their ability to bounce back.For American Magic, getting the boat around the course safely had allowed them to build confidence in both their boat and their ability to bounce back.

Semi Final - Race 1

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat New York American Magic

Start: 1515
Port: USA
Stbd: ITA
Course: C
Axis: 214
Length: 1.76nm
Current: 0 knots

Wind
21 knots / 225 degrees
Winner: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – 2min 43sec

As the start of the first Semi-final race approached the breeze was up against the stops. The forecast was for conditions to decrease through the afternoon but for the time being there was little evidence of this.

As American Magic entered the pre-start zone it was clear just how breezy conditions were as the American team struggled to keep control as they crossed Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, a small issue but one that caused problems later in in the pre-start sequence.

As both teams worked their way down into the bottom of the pre-start zone it was Luna Rossa who gained the upper hand when both boats turned back for their approach to the start line.

The Italians were just to leeward of the Americans and in a position where they could control the pace of the game as they prepared to start, holding American Magic up. When Luna Rossa did pull the trigger they did so with perfect timing and led across the start line. American Magic was forced to follow. By the top of the first beat and through Gate 1 Luna Rossa was 18 secs ahead and looking very smooth.

After the first lap, Luna Rossa had pulled out a few more seconds to round 22 sec ahead. This was a pattern that continued around the four-lap race.

The big change happened at Gate 3 when American Magic struggled during the bear away and lost control temporarily. Their boat had been travelling at 53kts, the fastest yet, but as they came crashing off the foils they were forced to tack around rather than gybe before heading off downwind again. And while they emerged unscathed, the problem had allowed Luna Rossa to pull out a lead of 2min 25sec.

One more lap of the course did little to change anything other than extending the Italian lead slightly further to see Luna Rossa finish 2min 43secs ahead. On the face of it a big loss for American Magic, but for both teams there were positive features to take away from this opening race of the semi-final.

For Luna Rossa their performance had been extremely smooth in difficult conditions, the Italians had clearly upped their game.

For American Magic, getting the boat around the course safely had allowed them to build confidence in both their boat and their ability to bounce back.

Luna Rossa - performance was extremely smooth in difficult conditions Photo: Studio BorlenghiLuna Rossa - performance was extremely smooth in difficult conditions Photo: Studio Borlenghi

Semi Final - Race 2

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat New York American Magic

Start:1615
Port: ITA
Stbd: USA
Course: C
Axis: 214
Length: 176
Current: 0.3 knots @ 150
Wind: 18 knots / 210 degrees
Winner: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – 3min 7sec

While the breeze had dropped a few knots, the current running against the breeze had built slightly making conditions choppier, especially on the right hand side of the course where the current was stronger.

In the pre-start this time it was Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli who came in on port tack from the left hand side, doing so at 47knots and spot on time.

Throughout the pre-start the Italians looked confident, executing a strategy to control their opponents.

Meanwhile, aboard American Magic things didn’t look quite so settled with the crew struggling to execute smooth manoeuvres.

When it came to the start, Luna Rossa had once again gained the upper hand, leading into the line with American Magic to windward and trailing.

By Gate 1 Luna Rossa were leading once again by 17sec, a similar margin to the first race.

Just as with the first race of the day, Luna Rossa were delivering a confident, poised performance, stretching their lead and looking on track to deliver a similar overall performance. Until that is, they reached Gate 2.

As they rounded the left hand of the two marks, approaching at 49 knots, Luna Rossa lost grip on their foil and skidded to leeward. There was plenty of spray and raised heartbeats but the crew recovered the situation quickly to get back up to speed.

The slip up had reduced the Italian lead over American Magic, but as the next few legs played out it was clear that there were control problems aboard Patriot with frequent loss of control on the downwind legs. Each time the distance between the two boats only grew, delivering another win to Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli by the finish as they crossed the line 3min 7sec ahead.

Two races in the bag for the Italian team, another two and they would be through to the Prada Cup final, but tomorrow’s weather looks likely to change gear and in doing so may re-set expectations once again.

QUOTES FROM THE RACE COURSE

FRANCESCO BRUNI - Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli helmsman
We are super happy, racing in so much wind is always really good. We are hitting faster speeds every day, that’s what we are training for and why we make improvements on the boats. We are not coming from a great period as we were not up to the standard we wanted, so there was a little bit of tension. In the past the boat wasn’t the fastest in the strong winds, but we knew we had made some big improvements in terms of performance, we saw very good numbers, and today on the water we also felt the difference.

TERRY HUTCHINSON - American Magic Skipper & Executive Director
First and fore-most congratulations to Luna Rossa for sailing a great day. As Francesco Bruni said, it was a hard day. We know Luna Rossa is a formidable team, we just have to sail better. Anyway today it felt like a normal race day. We had a good warm up and being so windy the boats are always on edge but to be completely candid with you I wasn’t even thinking this would have been possible about twelve days ago. It is a short Series and we have some meat on the bone here to keep working a way out of it.

PRADA Cup 2021

Click below to watch the video

The PRADA Cup Semi-Final is the first knock out phase of the Challenger Selection Series. The first team to win four races will face INEOS TEAM UK in the PRADA Cup Final Starting on the 13th of February. One step away from the Match.

Races will resume tomorrow 30th of January at 3:15 NZT, weather permitting.

Published in America's Cup
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INEOS TEAM UK stays unbeaten after what was probably the closest race seen so far on the AC75s, with nine lead changes throughout the nail-biting race against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.

With that result, Sir Ben Ainslie’s team won their the fifth race in a row in the Round Robins. Upon finishing the ‘ghost race’ start successfully it took them to 6 points, enough to qualify directly to the PRADA Cup final.

The Italian Challenger of Record fought until the last jibe of the last leg of a race that was the perfect definition of match race which saw the top speeds exceeding the 50 knot mark for the first time in racing.

INEOS TEAM UK (right) won RR3 Race 2 against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Photo: COR36 / Studio BorlenghiINEOS TEAM UK (right) won RR3 Race 2 against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Photo: COR36 / Studio Borlenghi


PRADA Cup 2021 - INEOS TEAM UK win RR3 Race 2 against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

RR3 - Race 2
Start: 1720
Port: ITA
Stbd: GBR
Course: C
Axis: 227
Length: 1.9nm
Current: 0.2 knots @ 316
Wind: 18-22 knots / 240 degrees
Winner: INEOS TEAM UK +33 seconds

If the tension surrounding this Italian/British shoot out for the right to jump straight to the PRADA Cup final wasn’t enough, the weather was about to throw plenty of more stress into the mix.

As the start time arrived, the breeze was shifting back and forth across the race course, preventing the race committee from setting a fair course.

As a series of delays followed, pushing the start back by almost an hour, news then came that INEOS TEAM UK needed to play their ‘delay card’ of 15mins as they struggled to repair a problem with the cunningham, one of the key controls for the mainsail.

By the time the race did start at 1720 the breeze was up towards 20 knots at times and still clearly very shifty. In the pre-start and with just a few seconds to go there were the first indications that this would be a closely fought race.

As they crossed the line, both were at the pin end, INEOS TEAM UK to windward, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli to leeward.

As they headed out towards the left hand side of the course INEOS were first to tack away. Luna Rossa followed shortly afterwards and when the pair came back together on the right hand side of the course they were still neck and neck. Luna Rossa tacked underneath, but were slow to come out of the tack. From here, the close battle continued to the first gate where INEOS rounded just 2 seconds ahead of Luna Rossa.

Drag racing down Leg 2 both were on port tack with Luna Rossa slightly lower and faster. But when they came back together, the Italians had lost out as the British crossed ahead.

At Gate 2 the British lead had increased to 9 seconds as they rounded the left hand mark. Luna Rossa took the right.

The next time they came back together Luna Rossa had taken the lead, the Italians appeared to be in phase with the shifts and were capitalising on it, pulling out more distance. By Gate 3 their lead was 19sec.

But there was plenty more left in this match.

Once again, the pair took opposite marks as they headed down leg 4.

When they came back together this time BRITANNIA had taken distance out of their opponents and by Gate 4 the gap was down to 10sec.

As both boats went around the right-hand mark, Luna Rossa headed out to the right while INEOS TEAM UK pulled off a more tricky tack around the mark to split from Luna Rossa who saw the move and tacked to cover.

Both now on starboard, when the British team came back they were now just a boat length apart as INEOS TEAM UK passed just behind them.

From there, Sir Ben Ainslie pushed out to the right, they needed the breeze to swing in their favour to capitalise on their move to the right of the course. Next time that they came back together, INEOS TEAM UK were ahead as they crossed the bow of the Italians on starboard. The tables had turned yet again.
From here, just over one leg lay between the British quest to jump to the final and the Italian hopes to keep their fast track to the Prada Cup alive. By the top mark for the last time, Gate 5 there was just one second between the pair as they headed down the final downwind leg.

Once again, they took opposite marks and they came back together INEOS TEAM UK were on starboard, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on port, the British were ahead by no more than a second as both tacticians talked of the left hand side being the better side.

For the next cross into the finish, INEOS TEAM UK were on port but could lay the finish, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli couldn’t and tried to get INEOS TEAM UK on a port starboard. As they approached the stern of the British boat, Luna Rossa called a protest as they claimed they had to avoid the give way boat. The umpires didn’t agree. The Italians had played their last card, it hadn’t worked and Sir Ben Ainslie cut the finish line 33 seconds ahead.

PRADA Cup 2021

Prada Cup Scoresheet

QUOTES FROM THE RACE COURSE

SIR BEN AINSLIE - INEOS TEAM UK Team Principal and Skipper
"That race was one for the fans. Pretty awesome race, great to take part in. Lots of lead changes, neck at neck all the way to the line, credit to the Luna Rossa guys for pushing hard. We had few issues leading into the pre-start as we were missing one of the key settings. The guys did an awesome job getting us around the track in one piece and getting the win."

JIMMY SPITHILL – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – Helmsman
“When we lodged the protest the both of us were doing 45 knots, we had to avoid BRITANNIA so it was a bit surprised that they thought it wasn’t close enough. At the top we didn’t pull off a couple of tacks as we should have, but it was really shifty. A continuous up and down the entire the racetrack and that’s why we saw so many lead changes. It was a good effort from the guys on board, and congratulations to INEOS TEAM UK. We didn’t get the result we wanted but we certainly learnt a lot from that one.”

PRADA Cup 2021RR3 Video

In recognition of being top round robin qualifier, INEOS TEAM UK were presented a bottle of G.H. Mumm and have been awarded with the PRADA Christmas Race trophy - which was not assigned in December as races were not held due to the lack of wind.

INEOS TEAM UK now have three full weeks to develop their boat and getting ready for the next race, whereas Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have only 6 days before to fine tuning their AC75 before the next race against American Magic who are in a race against time to repair their boat and get back to the startline. The Semi-final - the first knockout phase of the PRADA Cup - starts on Friday 29 January and by then the pressure ramps up dramatically.

No races will be held tomorrow.

Published in America's Cup
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American Magic's withdrawal from racing in the last two round robins of the America's Cup Challenger Selection Series means a revised schedule of racing on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour this week.

Following New York Yacht Club American Magic informing the Regatta Director that they will not be racing in Round Robins 3 and 4 of the PRADA Cup this weekend, the racing schedule has been revised as follows:

  • Saturday 23rd of January 2021:
    LUNA ROSSA PRADA PIRELLI vs INEOS TEAM UK – Start at 16:00 NZT
  • Sunday 24th of January 2021:
    INEOS TEAM UK vs LUNA ROSSA PRADA PIRELLI – Start at 16:00 NZT

In order to comply with the formality of the Regulations, after finishing the above races both competitors will have to take the start of a “ghost race” vs New York Yacht Club American Magic to allow the Regatta Director to award the point to the relevant team. The “ghost race” will then be suspended just a few minutes after the start. The rule of 25 minutes between the two starts will not apply to these “ghost races”.

Should INEOS TEAM UK win the Saturday race, the Sunday race result will be redundant as INEOS TEAM UK would be the first classified team of the Round Robins and, as such, will go directly through to the PRADA Cup Final. In that event, the two teams will have the choice whether or not to race on Sunday.

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