New Zealand media was abuzz this morning with the news that the Royal Yacht Squadron could be the next America’s Cup Challenger of Record.
Maybe not what Ben Ainslie wanted with his breakfast cornflakes . . . just two days before his Ineos Team UK go head-to-head with the Italian team Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in the Final of the Prada Cup.
The Challenger of Record usually organises the challenger selection series. The event that Ainslie will compete in from Saturday to decide the official challenger to the America’s Cup.
The 36th America’s Cup defender is Emirates Team New Zealand, and they are reported to have already circulated a tender document for the 37th America’s Cup to be held in 2023.
Of course, if Ineos or Luna Rossa go on to win the America’s Cup then everything changes again.
If Luna Rossa win, Prada would presumably run the 37th America’s Cup in Italy and it is thought that the Swiss team Alinghi (winner in 2003 and 2007) would return to the Cup as Challenger of Record.
If Ineos win, then the Cup would return to the UK for the first time since 1851 and the Royal Yacht Squadron would want it to be on their home waters, the Solent, with all the historic razzmatazz that would involve.
So, more pressure for Ben Ainslie as the Ineos team attempt to go that extra step and beat Luna Rossa to become the official challenger for the 36th America’s Cup in March.
But if the rumours are correct then Ineos team backer Sir Jim Ratcliff seems determined to increase his sport portfolio, and add high level yachting to his football, cycling and F1 motor racing reach.
Racing for the final of the Prada Cup starts on Saturday 13 February at 16:00hrs NZT (03:00hrs UK time) with two races.
Parada Cup winner is the first team to take seven wins.