Groundhog Day

With Races 3 and 4 of the America's Cup now complete, the results echo the two inseparable sides we saw earlier in the series.

12 March 2021


When the first two races of the 36th America’s Cup went ahead earlier this week, the action we saw was something exhilarating.

First, we saw Emirates Team New Zealand build up a leaping distance to overwhelmingly control the race, capitalising on an early mistake by Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. A result only to then be mirrored by the Italian side – co-helmed by Australian, Jimmy Spithill – similarly taking advantage of their opposition’s pre-start error.

That tied result sparked speculation over what the next lot of races would bring to the table while simultaneously acting as a reminder that sometimes in sailing, it’s not about who wins but rather, who loses.

Now with both Race 3 and 4 complete, the result being identical to what we saw in Day 1, the competition we’ve seen so far highlights how tight this series is shaping up to be.

But it’s also a reminder of how the winner of this series will likely be determined: not necessarily from a perfect start or ideal conditions but the absence of a mistake.


Race 3

As the second pre-start went ahead on Course E, the original being postponed due to spectators finding their way into the boundaries, rumours fluttered over who would win and, by extension, what it would mean for the series.

With gentler conditions of a NE variable SW and wind speed of 6­–9 knots, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli managed to pull a fraction of a lead heading towards the first gate, the Italian side cross that first mark only 10 seconds ahead Emirates Team New Zealand.

But as we saw earlier in this series, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli held and grew lead through the entire course, seeing it blossom to an impressive 37-second victory. A win that buried any rumour over Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli being unprepared for this series.

But just as everything about this series has orbited speculation and repetition, Race 4 was something we’ve seen before.

Race 4  

 As Race 4 went ahead, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli riding on a wake of confidence, it wasn’t naïve to think they could win again. The Prada Cup Final, as one example, being a moment that revealed the Italian side’s potential.

But what proved to be decisive in this race was a slight error by Luna Rossa at the start – an unforced error that reverberated into something larger.

In contrast, Emirates Team New Zealand’s near-perfect performance saw them dominate this race – the Defenders leading by over 500 metres for the majority, ultimately reaching the final line by over a minute earlier than Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.

“That was a really good race for us,” said Emirates Team New Zealand’s Flight Control, Blair Tuke.

“We just got off the start-line slightly better than the race before. They were very similar positionings but we just managed to get the jump on them before the boundary. The boat is going really well, and we managed to extend nicely.”

“That was great racing from both teams,” said Jimmy Spithill to reporters following Race 4’s conclusion. “Full credit to the Kiwis. They did a nice job in that race and we’re looking forward to tomorrow now.”

But, as Spithill also said – this time the crew as their vessel crossed the final line in Race 4: “Bad luck but not a bad day.”

It’s a line that reflects how something as small as luck will be so valuable for this series; how a small mistake can prove to cost a race and potentially, the cup itself.

Races 5 and 6 are scheduled to begin tomorrow, again at 2:00pm AEST.



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