PRADA Cup finals – 13-22 February 2021 – Auckland New Zealand


Sunday 14th February 2021. It’s an all-European final taking place in Auckland between the British INEOS Team UK and Italian Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. The winner of this final regatta in the series, best of 13 races, will meet the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand for the 36th America’s Cup 6-13 March.


First day: Italians make their mark

YCM member Patrizio Bertelli’s men took control from day one. The light winds of the first day saw a pas de deux that they led from start to finish against the Brits. The AC75 helmed by Australian Jimmy Spithill dominated the first race to cross the line 1 minute 52 seconds ahead of YCM member Sir James Arthur Ratcliffe’s INEOS Team UK.

The outcome of the second race was not clear-cut. The wind picked up a notch as did the pressure in Auckland’s bay where the two Challengers gave it their all, topping speeds of 48 knots, close marked, but in the end another solid win for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli but this time 16 seconds ahead of Ineos Team UK, helmed by British legend Ben Ainslie.

“My crew did a great job and the boat was performing fantastically well,” said Jimmy Spithill after a very successful first day. A perfectionist, the Australian wanted to keep his troops on high alert noting  “a few small mistakes that we are going to iron out.”



Second day: Italian romp

It was a difficult scenario for the Brits who received another beating on a much more lively course for the second day, with their opponents taking full advantage of minor errors by the British. Both races followed a similar pattern: impeccable starts by the Italians leaving the Brits in catch-up mode unable to close the gaps. Any manoeuvres by Ineos Team UK were in vain. “The challenge was to get a head start which we did very well, and then prevent them from getting a look in,” said the Luna Rossa helmsman.

“The guys on the coffee grinders did an extraordinary job, responding to every tack with a tack, and we widened the gap each time,” he added. Indeed, the crew are almost continuously working the winches on these 75-foot monohulls.

For their opponents it was another story: “It was a difficult day and we’re not happy. We can sail much better than this and we need to,” said four-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie, skipper of Ineos Team UK. “We just gave two races to those guys off the start line. At this level you can’t afford to make mistakes and we made too many”. The Italians crossed the line 13 seconds ahead on the third race and in the fourth opened up a 12-second advantage through the first gate and crossed the finish 41 seconds ahead of their rivals.

New Zealand has gone into a three-day lockdown to contain a Covid-19 outbreak that appeared at the weekend. It is not clear at this point when racing can resume, but it has been postponed from its initial scheduled date of Wednesday 17th February.