Watch every moment of the America’s Cup challenge, live on Sky Sports. Coverage continues with races four and five of the PRADA Cup final at 3am on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Mix, repeated again at 8am
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 18/02/21 7:54am
The PRADA Cup Final will resume with races five and six on Saturday, despite discord at Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli’s stance not to support any further postponement.
Wednesday’s race day was postponed due to New Zealand’s increased COVID-19 alert level and the Challenger of Record – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – and INEOS TEAM UK have since taken different positions on the resumption of racing.
INEOS TEAM UK were in support of the America’s Cup Event (ACE) organisers’ view on waiting until Auckland reached Alert Level 1 to maximum the engagement around the competition.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli wanted racing to restart as soon as possible, with safety precautions for all in the country, and threatened to invoke a hard stop after February 24, in accordance with the rules. This would mean the PRADA Cup Final could have been decided off the water.
The winner of the PRADA Cup Final is the team that will go on and face Emirates Team New Zealand in the 36th America’s Cup match.
In a statement on Thursday, the race organisers said that Alert Level 1 (New Zealand’s lowest level) could arrive as early as next week and that would enable racing to re-commence fully, with spectators and engagement supporting the action.
However, because the Challenger of Record (Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli) were “determined to remain inflexible to a change in the race schedule” and the organisers wanted to see the regatta completed on the water, racing would have to restart this weekend.
Over the last few days, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have lent on the rules of the competition and said that racing in the PRADA Cup Final must concluded by February 24, in order for it to be compliant.
If that didn’t happen, then they intended to declare the leading point scorer on that date the winner, regardless of whether the full series had been completed or not.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were in favour of implementing plans to ensure everyone’s safety, and resume racing ‘behind closed doors’. They said that as teams were authorised to sail and practice under COVID-19 Alert Level 3, they found it hard to understand why this could not be allowed.
“This is a disappointing situation, it is my responsibility to do my best to run the event with the best interests of the public and all stakeholders in mind,” Tina Symmans, the chair of America’s Cup Events said.
“So, with the current impasse, while not agreeing with the Challenger of Record, we want to see the regatta completed on the water.
“Since Sunday, we have worked really hard on behalf of everyone in Auckland and all Kiwis, to give the Challenger of Record the opportunity to demonstrate some honour and respect for this country, and delay the PRADA Cup until we have a greater chance of everyone being able to enjoy, and benefit from being back into Level 1” Symmans continued.
“Clearly they have forgotten the words of their leader Patricio Bertelli at the opening press conference, who spoke about how privileged everyone is to be in Auckland without significant Covid restrictions and that therefore everyone has a commitment and responsibility to deliver great sportsmanship and the PRADA Cup to be a major sporting event.
“This plea has fallen on deaf ears and it’s clear that their focus is solely on Luna Rossa taking the PRADA Cup rather than the greater good of the country who have worked so hard in order to be in a position to stage this event.” Symmans concluded.
Whilst INEOS TEAM UK has not been consulted, we fully respect and will abide by the decision of America’s Cup Event Ltd and will be ready to race as requested.
We believe this potential outcome would be a shame for the racing fans in Auckland when the city has done such a wonderful job of staging the regatta.
Given that it is a possibility that Auckland may move to Level 1 by Monday, we feel that delaying the restart until Monday would enable full spectator participation, even if this means racing continues past February 24.
We would like to thank the people of New Zealand for staging a wonderful event and we look forward to the resumption of competition and hope to provide some great racing.
With racing now set to resume on Saturday under Alert Level 2, there are certain restrictions in place, including racecourses B and C not being used to lower the chances of large public gatherings on the shore.
Two metre social distancing will be in place with face masks recommended. There will be no public screening of the racing in the race village and limited activations to ensure no more than 100 people gather.
Races five and six will occur on Saturday and after that, two races per day will happen until either INEOS TEAM UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli reaches seven points and therefore wins the PRADA Cup. At the pause in racing, INEOS TEAM UK are four-nil down against their Italian rivals.
Watch every moment of the America’s Cup challenge, live on Sky Sports. Coverage continues with the PRADA Cup Final on Saturday from 3am on Sky Sports Main Event and Mix, repeated at 8am.