The America’s Cup just got real
Published on February 1st, 2021
by Duncan Johnstone, Stuff
And then there were three – the America’s Cup just got real with the elimination of the first team from the small fleet of four.
The demise of American Magic and the rise of Luna Rossa brought a wave of conflicting emotions over the last few days as the Italians won their elimination battle and earned the right to join INEOS Team UK in the Prada Cup final that starts on February 13.
So much focus was on the performance of Patriot after American Magic’s dramatic capsize a fortnight earlier. Predictably it was well off the pace, especially against an Italian boat that had made significant gains in performance to earn a 4-0 sweep in the semifinal.
It was swift and ruthless by the Italians who were delighted with the newfound speed and better crew and communications systems they implemented. American Magic’s loss has them packing up and contemplating their future.
Plenty of focus fell on their Kiwi helmsman Dean Barker whose torrid time in the Cup continued.
Plenty of pressure comes on skipper and executive director Terry Hutchinson, who expressed a desire to keep the syndicate alive and now must convince the New York Yacht Club and their billionaire backers to get in behind him again.
Given all the upheavals with the warmup schedules and their early exit, this US campaign probably cost around $10m a race.
The Italians earned themselves an extra few days of preparation for the challenger final, something the British are already well into as they look to squeeze more all-round performance out of Britannia, knowing there’s a need for more speed in the lower wind range.
The final looks juicy and the building form of the challengers is also ramping up the expectations for the America’s Cup match in March. The British believe Team New Zealand will be beatable, despite conceding the Kiwis still hold a speed advantage as they train alone, adding new equipment as they go.
Racing returns Feb. 13-22 for the Prada Cup Finals in a best of thirteen race series between INEOS Team UK (GBR) and Luna Rossa (ITA).
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.