Prada Cup: Casualty of the pandemic

Published on February 16th, 2021

When New Zealand government ordered its largest city of Auckland to begin a three-day lockdown following the discovery of three unexplained coronavirus cases in the community, the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series schedule became a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic.

With the lockdown to extend, at a minimum, through February 17, this was also the next race day in the Finals between INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa. What happens next is not clear for the Prada Cup Finals which were scheduled for February 13-22, with reserve days to the 24th. Here’s an update from the event officials on February 17, 2021:

In these uncertain times, as the permitted Event Organizer responsible for the delivery of the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA in Auckland under the Host Venue Agreement with NZ Government and Auckland Council, America’s Cup Event Limited (ACE) remains committed to maintaining as many aspects as possible of the Event as originally planned.

This includes the ambition to maximize the possibility of safe public engagement at the event for Aucklanders and Kiwis from around the country, as well as the commercial benefits to local businesses, event sponsors, and partners which includes the New Zealand Government and Auckland City.

We are also mindful of the global broadcasting rights holders that are taking the stunning images of our country with thousands of people enjoying the event and broadcasting them into living rooms and devices around the world.

“As event organizers, we have spent a considerable amount of time since Sunday evening (Feb. 14) looking at all possible scenarios,” said ACE Chair Tina Symmans. “Like the majority of events around the country this weekend, the ramifications of running the remainder of the event need to be considered in an environment which is highly uncertain due to the latest COVID-19 concerns.”

ACE has consulted with the America’s Cup Minister Stuart Nash and senior Council officials and one consideration has been to postpone the current schedule of racing and events in the best interests of the public and all stakeholders given the current COVID-19 environment.

The position of ACE is based on one of two options based on the Government’s review of alert levels at 4:30 this afternoon:

• If the alert levels drop to level 1 in time, then racing will resume this weekend  (Feb. 20-21).
• If the alert level remains at 3 or 2, which obviously entails restrictions in gatherings and difficulties with events, racing and event activations would need to be rescheduled to recommence the Prada Cup Final on February 26. To respect the original timeframe scheduled between the Prada Cup Final and the America’s Cup Match (planned for March 6-15, with reserve days to March 21), Race 1 of the Match would subsequently begin a week later on March 13 with the intention of racing still being completed by March 21.

This morning the Challenger of Record (COR36) has made their position very clear in stating their desire to race from tomorrow (Feb. 18) despite COVID Alert level 3, to complete the PRADA Cup Final by the February 24 in accordance with the existing PRADA Cup conditions.

They have also stated that if the racing program cannot be completed by February 24, they intend to declare the leading point scorer the winner of the PRADA Cup and Challenger for the America’s Cup Match. Under the current points situation, that would be Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team.

“There is no guarantee as to what COVID-19 Alert Level Auckland or New Zealand will be operating under,” explained Symmans. “If the event is faced with operating under COVID-19 Level 2 or 3, plans are in place to ensure the continued delivery and conclusion of the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada within the scheduled dates.

“Clearly this would have potential implications for public participation which we are trying to avoid, however, the intention of the potential rescheduling will give the best possible opportunity to see the event run with maximum engagement and benefits for public and stakeholders.”

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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