It’s crunch time for the America’s Cup challengers In the Prada Cup round robin showdown. In the event of an English victory, Sir Ben Ainslie books his spot in the final of the Prada Cup. In case the Italians win on Saturday, INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli will need to face each other again on Sunday.
The winner will be awarded with the Christmas Race trophy, which wasn’t won in December as races were cancelled due to lack of wind, in recognition of being the top qualifier of the Prada Cup round robins.
It will be hard to predict the outcome of this weekend, Britannia will take to the water with four consecutive victories and they look like they are the boat to beat but Max Sirena and his crew have worked hard over the week to fine-tune Luna Rossa and now she is ready.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Helmsman Jimmy Spithill was coy about the adjustments made to the boat.
“Maybe we have changed one of the foils… I haven’t looked this morning, but you never know, it could have happened!”
“Like the other teams we are constantly trying to improve the boat and make her faster. We went sailing the other morning, and we will be training again today, but we don’t want to blow up the grinders because tomorrow will be a pretty important race”.
Coming into the match-up against INEOS Team UK, Spithill was confident that the team were focused on the job at hand.
“There is not desperation; we don’t get desperate at Luna Rossa. It’s more excitement to be honest.
It’s just a great opportunity because there is a real incentive here for both these teams to win tomorrow’s race; if we do that there is a lot of incentive for Sunday as well. The stakes are high and it’s a great test for our two teams”.
INEOS Team UK has found an extraordinary patch of form during the Prada Cup after struggling in the America’s Cup World Series just before Christmas. INEOS Team UK has made tweaks to their own AC75 in order to stay up to pace with the challengers.
Team Principal and Skipper of INEOS Team UK Sir Ben Ainslie commented, “we take each race one at a time. To come out on top [this weekend] buys you time and time in this game is everything. Some upgrades might be an over-night job, others might take three or four days. Winning the Round Robin will buy the team the flexibility to change things you wouldn’t have the chance to change otherwise. It’s going to be significant in the overall outcome if this Cup”.
Regatta Director Iain Murray also announced that in the event of a yacht capsizing during a race, the Umpires will terminate the race immediately and the point will be assigned to the opponent, rather than having to wait until the yacht receives outside help.