36th America's Cup: Uncertainty surrounds future schedule due to New Zealand lockdown
Wednesday's PRADA Cup racing was postponed after New Zealand went into a 72-hour lockdown; INEOS TEAM UK want to complete the PRADA Cup Final, even if it is postponed, and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have proposed hard cut-off
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 18/02/21 1:50pm
A considerable amount of uncertainty surrounds the America's Cup competition, with the INEOS TEAM UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli taking different positions regarding the future schedule.
Racing in the PRADA Cup Final between INEOS TEAM UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli was due to continue on Wednesday. However, after New Zealand's COVID-19 alert level changed and the country went into a 72-hour lockdown, the race day was postponed.
The PRADA Cup Final is the competition between the two remaining challengers that decides which one becomes the challenger to Emirates Team New Zealand in the 36th America's Cup. It is a first-to-seven-wins series, and four races have taken place so far.
Now, the event organiser has said that they wish to keep as many parts of the America's Cup as originally planned, but that race days might need to be postponed in order to do that.
In a statement, the organisers then made it clear that if New Zealand's alert level dropped to one, then racing would resume this weekend.
However, if the alert level remained at three or two, which means restrictions in gatherings and difficulties with events, then racing and event activations would need to be rescheduled.
The intention of the potential rescheduling will give the best possible opportunity to see the event run with maximum engagement and benefits for public and stakeholders.
Tina Symmans - America’s Cup Event Chair
The proposed dates would be to reschedule the PRADA Cup Final to begin again on February 26, with the first race of the America's Cup match moving back to March 13.
INEOS TEAM UK, led by team principal and skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, are trailing Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli 4-0 in the PRADA Cup final and the British outfit are in support of the race organisers' proposals.
"The result of the PRADA Cup final should be won and decided on the water in the agreed format of first to win seven races," their statement said.
"INEOS TEAM UK fully respect the government's decision to curtail racing until it is safe to do so and would support a delay in the competition if that is required.
"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. INEOS TEAM UK will continue with our race preparations and be ready to race when it is safe to do so."
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Statement
The Challenger of Record has also offered its full support to ACE and to the local authorities to immediately implement the Level 3 Alert management plan provided for by the AC36 Event COVID-19 Management On Land and On Water Plans.
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. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is ready to race against INEOS Team UK on February 19, in compliance to the programme of the Prada Cup Finals which must end no later than February 24.
However, their opponents Luna Rosa Prada Pirelli take a very different stance on the matter and have made it clear they want to race as early as February 19, while respecting public health and the protocols imposed by the New Zealand government.
"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," their statement said.
They continue to say that if the race programme is not completed by February 24, then they support the Challenger of Record's decision to declare the leading point scorer the winner of the PRADA Cup.
That team would become the challenger for the America's Cup match and under the current points situation, it would Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.
Watch every moment of the America's Cup challenge, live on Sky Sports.