Prada Cup: Italians dominate USA
Published on January 28th, 2021
Auckland, New Zealand (January 29, 2021) – The start of the semi-final stage of the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series had the return of American Magic facing Luna Rossa in the best of seven semi-final stage. For both teams, it was now either win or go home.
When American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson faced his team following their day of damage on January 16, he was positive and inspirational. He encouraged the team to do what they have to do to get it down “because it’s going to make for one hell of a story.”
After completing repairs and returning to the water two days ago, it was all systems go today, but the Italians were notably better in both races, leaving USA yet to score a win in the Prada Cup. Whether it was their smaller mainsail choice, called the bat-wing, or rust, or other technical issues, this was not the story Hutchinson hoped for, being two losses away from elimination.
Semi-Final Series, Race 1
In a gusty southwester reaching 20+ knots, USA entered from the port end with a reduced sail plan, full of hope to regain their mojo. But their plan of digging into the right corner of the start box got them cornered, with ITA perfectly turning in front on the return and blasting away.
USA was late at the start, and lost ground at nearly every turn. While consistently posting faster speeds, perhaps a lesser VMG had USA soon trailing by over 600 meters before trouble found them. While bearing away for their third offwind leg, they hit 53.3 knots and that was enough to lose control.
The bow slammed, and before USA helm Dean Barker regained steerage, they got a boundary penalty and were now trailing by over 2000 meters. ITA sailed a near flawless race, completing the four lap course in 26:42 to win by 2:43.
ITA co-helm Francesco Bruni said after the race, “I like it when you talk with me when we win; you can talk with Jimmy (co-helm Jimmy Spithill) if we lose.”
Less pleased was USA helm Dean Barker. “It was not the result we where looking for, but it’s nice getting confidence back into the boat.”
Semi-Final Series, Race 2
While the wind remained puffy, the lower end of the wind range had dropped, prompting both teams to raise larger jibs. With ITA now entering the start box on port, they again had all the answers as USA lacked any counter-punch, and again trailed off the line behind ITA on starboard.
With USA trailing by 17 seconds at the top mark, they could only hope for a mistake by ITA to help their cause, and a glimmer of hope occurred at the first leeward mark as ITA skidded and slammed. However, a quick recovery by starboard helm Spithill got them rolling again, building a lead up to 300 meters on the second upwind leg.
ITA stayed perfect from that point on while USA crashed again at the beginning of the third and fourth downwind legs, losing their rudder both times. ITA went on to win by 3:07, finishing the four lap course in 26:57.
“These were difficult conditions but I am happy to talk to you again,” said Bruni after the race. “We knew we had to make some big changes to the boat in the upper wind range and it feels good to now see the result.”
USA skipper Terry Hutchinson commented about the control issues. “These boats are always on edge in these conditions, but we also had some control problems the last couple days so we need to look at the data to find the cause.”
Semi-Final Scoreboard (wins-losses)
American Magic (USA): 0-2
Luna Rossa (ITA): 2-0
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.