The teams are there, the boats are there, and racing has finally started in the Prada Cup, the official competition to select the challenger to take on Emirates Team New Zealand for the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland.
The Prada Cup, as it is now named, used to be called the Louis Vuitton Cup – or Challenger Selection Series. The event decides which of: Luna Rosa Prada Pirelli; INEOS Team UK; or American Magic will take on Emirates Team New Zealand in the 2021 America’s Cup.
Following their 4-0 straight victories over American Magic in the Semi-Final, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli now go through to the Prada Cup Final where they will face INEOS Team UK. For the American team, the dream is over as they become the first to be eliminated from the competition.
American Magic was the first team to be knocked out of the Prada Cup. Photo: COR 36/Studio Borlenghi
What do we know?
With the Round Robin Series and Semi-Final now concluded, we are starting to get a much better understanding of how the remaining challengers compare.
The British team has worked incredibly hard and came out of the blocks fighting and have since won all of their Round Robin races in the Prada Cup, signalling their intent with an impressive double win on day one and going on to win ever race they have sailed so far in the Prada Cup.
Having won the Round Robin series, they were able to go straight through to the Prada Cup Final.
Though the Brits have looked very strong, and have made some changes to their boat, it is difficult to discern much difference in boat speed between the teams, with all boats seemingly performing pretty similarly across the wind range – though there have been small advantages for each in various wind speeds and directions.
Although the Brits have beaten Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in every race they have sailed, these have been far from easy victories and the margins have been very tight indeed.
Many of the races between the two teams could have gone either way, with a prime example being the final race of the Round Robins where the teams were involved in easily the best race so far, which saw the lead change on nine occasions.
The British team has been able to get more testing time on the water. COR 36/Studio Borlenghi
The good news for INOES Team UK is that, having secured their position in the Final in the fastest possible fashion, they are rewarded with increased development time. It might not be a huge boost, but the five days between them winning the Round Robin and the start of the Semi-Final were all days the Brits could be putting in time to development. The Italians, on the other hand, needed to prepare for Semi-Final racing and then race over the course of two days.
The Brits have stated that much of their development time between their poor performance in the America’s Cup World Series and the start of the Prada Cup went into fixing their problems, so they were unable to bring any of their other planned developments in. This additional time, should offer them the chance to test out some of these developments which have been waiting in the wings.