Luna Rossa set to claim Prada Cup in event of no more racing

While America’s Cup Event (ACE) says it’s committed to maintaining as many aspects as possible of the event as originally planned, it’s being overtaken by a furore as the challenger of record (and thus organiser of the Prada Cup), Luna Rossa, has stated that if the racing program cannot be completed by Wednesday (24th) it intends to declare the leading point scorer the winner of the Prada Cup. Thus, that winner becomes the challenger for the America’s Cup.

Under the current points situation, that would be the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team. This, the challenger says, is in accordance with the existing Prada Cup conditions.

The Italian team says it is “surprised by the statements published by ACE and by INEOS Team UK – which has supported ACE, stating that the “Prada Cup final should be won and decided on the water in the agreed format of first to win seven races.”

Luna Rossa is arguing that everyone signed-up to the plan of what would happen should this situation occur.

“From day one of the teams’ activities in New Zealand, protocols have been put in place, together with ACE and all government bodies, to allow teams and organisers alike to operate in the different Covid-19 alert levels, enabling them to prepare and race behind closed doors, if need be, as happens in the Formula1, Australian Open and other events; the priority in these contexts is clearly the health of the people involved,” says Luna Rossa.

“The challenger of record has confirmed that it is possible to race in total safety and has also offered full support to ACE and local authorities for the application of the protocol indicated by the AC36 Event Covid-19 Management On Land and On Water Plans for the Covid-19 alert. There is no reason why teams that are allowed to train during this alert level should not be allowed to race, albeit behind closed doors, according to the same protocol.

“The weather conditions for the next few days are ideal to carry out top level racing.”

The Italians position is straight forward. The team is sticking to the agreed protocols.

“I wonder whether they would be singing the same tune at 4-0 down,” says Marcus Wheatley for Rule69. “Unlikely but that’s the game. Self interest came thundering to the table.

“To win the America’s Cup you have got to be willing to play the hardest of hardball and to be honest, I have a sneaking admiration for what Luna Rossa is doing here. This isn’t a tea party. It isn’t a race for gentleman racers. It is a brutal game, not a sport, where you use every letter of every rule to your advantage.”

Organiser scrambles

ACE is scrambling to to maintain as many aspects as possible of the event as originally planned.

It’s looking to maximise the possibility of safe public engagement at the event for Aucklanders and Kiwis from around New Zealand, as well as the commercial benefits to local businesses, event sponsors and partners which includes the New Zealand Government and Auckland City.

‘We are also mindful of the global broadcasting rights holders that are taking the stunning images of our country with thousands of people enjoying the event and broadcasting them into living rooms and devices around the world,’ says ACE’s statement.

Currently ACE is holding out for the alert level to drop to level one in time for racing to resume this weekend.

If the alert level remains at three or two, which obviously entails restrictions in gatherings and difficulties with events, racing and event activations would need to be rescheduled to recommence the Prada Cup final on Friday 26 February, currently unacceptable to the Italian team.

“Racing delayed further, and TV schedules being thrown out, in Italy particularly will cause a great deal of head scratching, and a great deal of mirth, given the entirety of Covid cases in Auckland would all fit in the same Fiat Panda for a trip to the Covid hospital,” says one commentator in the New Zealand Herald.

To respect the original timeframe scheduled between the Prada Cup Final and the America’s Cup Match, ACE suggests that race one of the America’s Cup match could begin a week later on Saturday 13 March with the intention of racing still being completed by 21 March.

“The solution put forward by ACE is sensible in ensuring both the safety of all in New Zealand, and the integrity of the sporting competition,” says Ineos.

Online, furore has erupted between supporters. Ineos fans ask why there is such a rush and if it would be the same were the points reversed, while Luna Rossa’s supporters are sticking to the agreed protocols.

Meanwhile, in the UK, gogglebox has introduced a wider audience to the America’s Cup.

“It’s so shit, but it’s so good!” says one watching the drama, sport, dreams, careers and millions of pounds of investment.

Main image courtesy of Studio Borlenghi.

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