Prada Cup: Britain poised for comeback

Published on February 19th, 2021

The history of Great Britain in the America’s Cup is not great, and it has been a mission of 5-time Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie to change that. After he helped USA defend in 2013, he launched his own team in 2017 but failed to deliver.

Hoping for more success in 2021, the Brits are again on the brink of defeat, trailing Italy 0-4 in the best of 13 series. Ainslie shares how his team hopes to launch their comeback in this report on February 19, 2021:

These past few days have been a stark reminder of how fortunate we all are to be living a relatively normal life and racing here in Auckland. Going back into an Alert Level 3 lockdown for several days, and now into Alert Level 2 and operating under COVID-19 restrictions again, has really brought home just how fragile the situation we are in is and what a brilliant job the New Zealand government and the people here have done to date.

Now, however, after much talk and bluster over the schedule, it is time to get back to racing tomorrow and we are ready for the fight.

Since we last raced, we have used the extra preparation time to take a good hard look at our previous races in the Final and analyze our performance. As we are under a measurement certification for the Final, we can’t make any major modifications to BRITANNIA, so our focus has been on time on the water. The last couple of days we have trained in the lighter end of the wind spectrum, working on our technique.

Some of these racing techniques, particularly through the maneuvers, are very subtle. There is so much that goes into a single maneuver, from the sequencing of changing the load between the boards, the main and jib transfers, the rate of turn and more. We have been looking at that and seeing how we can make gains because, whilst there wasn’t a huge amount between the two teams, we weren’t quite as strong as the Italians in our tacks.

Another area of focus for us has been our pre-starts. The more the teams race, the better we are at figuring out each other’s plays in the pre-starts. It’s starting to get very interesting how each team reacts to the pre-start race strategy of the other team. Nailing our strategy, boat handling and the split-second timing will be key in potentially catching the other team off-guard and taking the lead from the start.

The forecast this weekend (Feb. 20-21) is for light winds. When you get to the lighter end of the spectrum it’s all about which team can stay on the foils the longest, is generating the least amount of drag with their foils, and is able to accelerate fastest out of the maneuvers.

The Italians, along with the Kiwis, have shown to be the stand-out teams in the lighter air to date so for us, again, the past few days have been about working on improving our techniques in the light wind and trying to counter their capabilities. If we can do that, get a good start, and then make the right decisions on where the wind is on the course, we know we can get ahead and stay ahead.

All through this challenge we have kept our emotions level. We stick to our processes, do the best job we can, and take each race as it comes. That will continue to be our approach. We know we need to start winning some races and we believe we can.

The team has been brilliant across the board and has not wavered a single minute. Not a single person in the team has not lived up to the challenges that we have faced. We are in the thick of the fight right now, we will give it our best shot and I have every confidence in the team that we can come through this.

Prada Cup Final Scoreboard (wins-losses)
INEOS Team UK (GBR): 0-4
Luna Rossa (ITA): 4-0

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 Final earns entry to face the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, in the America’s Cup Match beginning March 6.

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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