36th America's Cup: Emirates Team New Zealand win America's Cup World Series in Auckland
The final day of warm-up racing, featuring the PRADA Christmas Race, will be live on Sky Sports Mix from 2am on Sunday and repeated again at 9am. Every moment of the 36th America's Cup challenge is live on Sky Sports
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 19/12/20 8:50am
Emirates Team New Zealand, the defender of the America's Cup, won the America’s Cup World Series on Saturday in Auckland.
The home unit took victory on the third day of racing as all teams build towards next year's PRADA Challenger Selection Series and then the 36th America's Cup match.
The victory almost completes Emirates Team New Zealand's competitive warm-ups on a high note, with only the PRADA Christmas Race to come, for Peter Burling and the sailing team on Sunday.
Emirates Team New Zealand are automatically part of the 36th America Cup match in March so will not have to worry about the gruelling PRADA Challenger Selection Series, which will determine their challenger.
The final race day of 2020 - the PRADA Christmas Race - will take place on Sunday and be live on Sky Sports Mix from 2am.
PRADA Christmas Race
The first race will see Emirates Team New Zealand facing INEOS TEAM UK, followed by a match between Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and New York Yacht Club American Magic.
After the two match ups, the winners of both races will progress to the final and the losers will meet in a play-off. This will decide the final rankings.
Moving winds (and courses)
Every race day, the course on which the teams will sail is decided by Race Management. Then, spectator crafts are allowed to be moored at a safe distance, along the course.
There are six designated areas in the Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata Harbour which offer a wide range of race course options and ahead of racing on Saturday, the Regatta Director was forced to make a late change of course due to the shifting winds.
As a result, a fleet of 1,500 spectator boats needed to be moved, which created a delay to the start of racing.
PRADA America’s Cup World Series Auckland - Double Round Robin
|December 17||December 18||December 19|
|Race One: Emirates Team New Zealand bt Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team||Race Five: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team bt American Magic||Race Nine: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team bt INEOS TEAM UK|
|Race Two: American Magic bt INEOS TEAM UK||Race Six: Emirates Team New Zealand bt INEOS TEAM UK||Race Ten: Emirates Team New Zealand bt American Magic|
|Race Three: INEOS TEAM UK retired vs Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team||Race Seven: American Magic bt Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team||Race 11: American Magic bt INEOS TEAM UK|
|Race Four: American Magic bt Emirates Team New Zealand||Race Eight: Emirates Team New Zealand bt INEOS TEAM UK||Race 12: Emirates Team New Zealand bt Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team|
Positivity for the defender
Emirates Team New Zealand went into the day with a block of positive work behind them and maintained that with a victory over New York Yacht Club American Magic in Race Ten.
The results meant that the final race of the day against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli had everything to play for in terms of the standings, and both outfits attacked the contest with vigour.
At the start, the Italians showed their intent by forcing the home side into an area of the start zone which the sailors have nicknamed 'coffin corner' and that meant Emirates Team New Zealand were down by 32 seconds at the first gate.
The conditions forced both boats to come off their foils, Emirates Team New Zealand first followed by Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, and it then became a race as to be the first to takeoff again. The Kiwi outfit won that race and, as they have done all week out on home waters, showed their speed.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli never gave up though, and pushed their opponents tirelessly. However, a 16- second victory ultimately secured the PRADA America's Cup World Series for Emirates Team New Zealand.
Challengers for INEOS TEAM UK
The British team - INEOS TEAM UK - had two contests on Saturday, one against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and the other against New York Yacht Club American Magic.
With the light airs on the Hauraki Gulf, something that they were aware would present issues for them, it was another difficult day for Sir Ben Ainslie and the team.
The difficulties of lighter airs
Lighter airs mean that these seven tonne boats are not able to get up onto their foils, and fly just above the water in the same way as they would stronger airs..
Instead of enjoying the sensation of flying, they're pulling a significant weight of boat through the water in a more 'normal' fashion.
Needless to say, if teams raise up on their foils and then crash down off them, that present significant work and challenges for all on board.
"It was an incredibly tough day because, as we knew going into it, our light air performance is not good enough and not where we want it to be," Ainslie noted.
"That gets highlighted in these boats because if you are in the water and not foiling the losses are huge.
"Whilst we know that is a weakness it does not make it less frustrating. We are working on trying to resolve it by the start of the Challenger Series next month.
"As competitive sailors taking a beating like that is pretty hard to take so we will go away, regroup, and keep our heads up. The conditions tomorrow are expected to be similar so we will try to learn more about how we can improve."
Watch every moment of the America's Cup challenge, live on Sky Sports. Coverage continues with the PRADA Christmas Race on Sunday from 2am on Sky Sports Mix, with a 9am repeat.