The crushing defeat of NYYC American Magic over the weekend has set-up a Prada Cup Final between Italy’s Luna Rossa and Britain’s Ineos Team UK.
On the evidence of their earlier meeting in the round-robin stage, which produced some of the best AC75 racing seen to date, this should be a ‘dream-team’ race series.
In their four race win against an obviously struggling American Magic, Luna Rossa appeared to have improved their communication and handling weak points, winning despite being the slower boat.
Never troubled by the New York YC team, who put all their energies into the rebuilding of their crippled boat, only to find it dramatically under prepared for this stage of the event.
Luna Rossa talked-up their improvements, but to the viewer it looked like they received a free pass into the final . . .
The American Magic crash, when storming away with the round robin race against Luna Rossa, will become another America’s Cup footnote, to be picked over in years to come as the ‘what-if’ moment of the 36th Cup.
The two remaining challenger teams now have an extended break to carry out more testing and improvements before the first Prada Cup Final series race on the 13 February.
This is a first to seven race-win series to decide the official challenger for the 36th America’s Cup match.
That is a possible seven days of racing, with two races a day, stretched over 12 days. Let’s hope it’s worth the lost sleep and not an extended version of the one-sided Semi Final.
For Ben Ainslie’s Ineos Team UK this is the first time since the 1983 America’s Cup that a British team has reached the challenger final – where Victory ’83 was beaten by Australia II in what was then the Louis Vuitton Cup.
That was the historic America’s Cup where Australia II, skippered by John Bertrand, went on to beat the American 12-metre, Liberty, skippered by Dennis Conner, and break the New York YC’s 132-year winning streak.
Sir Ben has ticked the first box, now in uncharted waters, can he tick the second?
For the Italians this will be their third appearance in the Challenger Final, winning in 1992 and 2000 to become the official challenger for the America’s Cup, losing on both occasions.
Prada Cup Final – February 2021
Both teams must Declare their AC75 and the yacht’s equipment to be used in the Final on Monday 8 February.
First race Saturday 13 February.