America’s Cup: British ring the bell
Published on January 14th, 2021
Auckland, New Zealand (January 15, 2021) – The opening day for the Challenger Selection Series saw the three America’s Cup challengers reveal their status on Course C, on what is referred to as the Stadium Course. With clear skies and strong spectator interest, this would be the first of three days in which the teams were locked into a measurement scheme for the anticipated conditions.
As the only team with two races on the schedule, there was maximum pressure on INEOS Team UK (GBR) to overcome the deficits in boat handling and performance they’d demonstrated in practice and in the America’s Cup World Series races in December. They did all that and more.
As for their opponents, American Magic (USA) had the worst of it, seemingly out of phase with the course and the competition. Luna Rossa (ITA), aside from a bad start, looked good enough but not good enough today.
RR1, Race 1 – USA vs GBR
With USA having the port entry to the starting box, GBR set up to windward for the start and were off the line with a slight advantage. However, as the teams sped off to the left boundary, it looked like USA were slightly higher and were preparing to pounce. But that all ended quickly, for after the Brits tacked away, they sped away. In winds that neared the mid-teens, it was never close after that, and while some of it was attributed to better tactics and boat handling, the Brits were just faster. Ahead at every mark, building a lead to nearly 1000 meters, the Brits won the three lap race by 1:20 minutes. During the 23:13 minute race, it was a bit of a shocker for a team that had struggled in earlier tests. But after a complete overhaul in which they changed their mast, sails, and foils, the British team now appear to be for real.
RR1, Race 2 – GBR vs ITA
In similar wind strength, GBR reduced their jib size for the race, and with the port entry this time, they dominated the start, leading the Italians toward the pin in their starboard approach. Both boats tacked at the port end, and the Brits looked good as they led to the right side of the course. This was the theme of the day as better winds were on that side, but ITA did not go away through the three lap, 24:44 race. While the British lead reached 600+ meters on the second downwind leg, smart tactics by the Italians kept the Brits within reach but in the end there was not enough opportunity, giving GBR a 28 second victory.
“We couldn’t have been happier with how the boat got around the track,” said British skipper Ben Ainslie. “Quite a turnaround for us in these conditions. Pretty much all the components got changed; we worked around the clock to make it happen. We feel good in this breeze and up but we know we have work to do in the lighter winds which are expected tomorrow.”
Prada Cup Scoreboard (wins-losses)
American Magic (USA): 0-1
INEOS Team UK (GBR): 2-0
Luna Rossa (ITA): 0-1
The PRADA Cup is a series of four round robins (Jan. 15-17 and Jan. 22-24), with the winner of the series qualifying for the PRADA Cup Final and the remaining two Challengers going into a Semi-Final Series (Jan. 29-Feb. 2) for the right to join the Round Robin winner in the Final (Feb. 13–22). The winner of the PRADA Cup will then face the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, in the America’s Cup Match beginning March 6.