Prada Cup finals take shape

Published on January 25th, 2021

It is typical in match racing for there to be an opening stage which can reduce the field, or in the example of the America’s Cup, be used for seeding. Do well and skip a round, while others face elimination in a knockout match.

But it can be a mixed blessing to do well. While guaranteed a slot in the final, you also miss out on sharpening your racing skills. To be the best, you must beat the best.

However, the America’s Cup is not your typical match racing event. Developing boat speed uses computers, not competitors, and time off the course is needed for upgrades.

That gives Emirates Team New Zealand and INEOS Team UK the advantage, as the Kiwi defender has over five weeks to evolve their performance while the British challenger don’t race again until February 13.

With a break from racing until January 29, Duncan Johnstone of New Zealand news media website Stuff provides an update:

Victories on the water, battles off it – the British are in the thick of the America’s Cup action and thriving on the challenge.

Britannia’s remarkable resurgence has INEOS Team UK taking the direct route to the Prada Cup final that starts on February 13.

But they do so with a threat hanging over their campaign in the form of a ‘yellow card’ they received early in the round-robin after a successful protest from arch rivals Luna Rossa over a sail innovation.

Italy are increasing their relentless reconnaissance of the British, looking to pick up anything that appears dodgy. A second infringement would see the British cop a disqualification from their next race.

It’s a position Sir Ben Ainslie is challenging. Regatta officials appear to share his thinking over excessive penalties for non-performance enhancing tweaks that are outside the strict AC75 class rule, with a heavyweight meeting scheduled to discuss the situation.

These boats are getting increasingly closer as we saw with the high-speed drama of Britain’s win over Italy to secure their place in the challengers final, cracking the magical 50 knots barrier.

Luna Rossa must now regroup, though they insist there is no panic as they get set to take on American Magic in the do-or-die semifinal series that starts on Friday.

The Italians showed good boat speed against the Brits and know they will need all of that if American Magic can get Patriot back to the sort of numbers it was showing just before its capsize.

Terry Hutchinson, the calm US boss, says Patriot’s heart is beating again after a 24/7 repair job and appears on course to come out of the shed on Wednesday for race measurement and testing.

The challengers are in no doubt about the size of the task ahead. British grinder Freddie Carr, into his sixth Cup campaign, believes defenders Emirates Team New Zealand are fast and setting the bar high for this 36th edition of sport’s oldest contest.

The Kiwis have been trialing a new foil in recent outings and their proven record in this department will only make them faster.

More information:
• Prada Cup format, standings, and how to watch online: click here.
• Complete America’s Cup coverage: click here
• Additional America’s Cup information: click here

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