Nothing is simple in this game
Published on January 18th, 2021
The opening stage of the Challenger Selection Series for the America’s Cup is at the half-way point, and Duncan Johnstone of Stuff provides this recap of the action:
One minute all the focus was on the remarkable comeback by INEOS Team UK, the next moment it was completely overshadowed by the dramatic capsize of American Magic.
Welcome to the real America’s Cup racing where issues change as quickly as a turn on a foiling AC75.
Expect the unexpected is the modern mantra of this high-speed game.
The opening round of the Prada Cup challenger series belonged to Sir Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK, who had looked so sluggish pre-Christmas. Their modifications to Britannia have worked a treat and three days of racing across a wide range of wind conditions gives huge promise to the British challenge.
It’s not just the boat they have improved, they’ve also worked some clever crew systems to free up tactician Giles Scott to have more time to concentrate on the crucial job of finding the best wind on these tricky courses.
As impressive as the British revival has been, the biggest mystery was the loss of form by American Magic, who had been a heavy favorite coming into the Prada Cup.
If Friday and Saturday (Jan. 15-16) were disappointing for the team from the New York Yacht Club, Sunday (Jan. 17) suddenly turned into an absolute disaster with an 83kmh capsize that captivated the world.
The five-hour salvage job just to save Patriot from sinking was the biggest victory for American Magic and they now face the massive task of trying to get their boat repaired and race-ready again.
Skipper Terry Hutchinson has praised the sporting efforts of his three rivals, and said Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton had promised them ‘whatever you need we have it for you‘.
Then there’s Luna Rossa.
The Italians have been pushing the envelope off the water with a series of legal battles, aimed at upsetting their opponents, including defender Team New Zealand.
They’ve had mixed success there but they have building form on the water and in a game where timing is everything, they sense a bit of momentum coming into their performance.
The round-robin phase of the Prada Cup is completed with racing from Friday to Sunday (Jan. 22-24). The Americans won’t be ready in time for that so the British and Italians will battle it out with the top team going straight through to the Prada Cup final.
Sitting at 4-0, INEOS Team UK will need only one more win to achieve that. Sounds simple, but nothing is simple in this game.
Prada Cup Scoreboard (wins-losses)
American Magic (USA): 0-4
INEOS Team UK (GBR): 4-0
Luna Rossa (ITA): 2-2
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.