Tension skyrocketed in Auckland over the resumption of the Prada Cup final. The diplomatic incident between the Cup organizers and Luna Rossa eventually came to a thunderous end. The Covid alert in Auckland has dropped from level 3 to 2, according to government safety protocols sporting events could then take place but without an audience. And that’s what the Challenge of Record, which not only represents Luna Rossa but is also and especially the organizer of the Prada Cup, wants: to return to the water on February 19, start the series again, and finish it as per the regatta rules by February 24.
THE POSITION OF ACE
Not of the same opinion are the Cup organizers, ACE, who instead want to race with the public and propose a postponement of the finals, with resumption on Feb. 26 when the alert will presumably have dropped to level 1, then also slipping the America’s Cup by a week. The organizers argue that it would otherwise be a detriment to the New Zealand public and to all side activities. However, the Challenge of Record reminds that it is prepared to apply the regatta rules to the letter, and declare the boat with the most points as of Feb. 24 the winner. On this point, the Challenge of Record seems immovable and ready to say no to any other proposals, with the goal of returning to the water immediately starting on Day 19 to be able to then give Ineos a chance to play its cards as well. The COR also reminded that the problem is not only with New Zealand audiences, but also with audiences in the rest of the world where live TV programs are already scheduled on schedule. From the reports we have, it does not appear that the Challenge of Record is willing to give up, and without an agreement on the rule change, there are no terms to extend the series beyond February 24.
THE BRITS AIM FOR REFERRAL
The British for their part watch with interest and obviously stand against the Challenge of Record.
“NEOS TEAM UK respects the decision communicated by ACE to delay the PRADA Cup races due to the current COVID-19 alert level in Auckland. The result of the PRADA Cup final should be won and decided on the water in the agreed format of first to win 7 races. INEOS TEAM UK fully respects the government’s decision to restrict racing until it is safe to do so and will support a delay in competition if this is necessary. ACE’s proposed solution is reasonable in ensuring both the safety of everyone in New Zealand and the integrity of sports competition. INEOS TEAM UK will continue preparations for the race and will be ready to compete when it is safe to do so“.
A statement that makes one smile a bit, because in fact ACE, the organizers of the Cup, cannot make such a decision independently and without agreement with the Challenge of Record, and no decision has yet been made officially. By the way, there is no government decision in restricting regattas, since with alert level 2 the same government protocols stipulate that regattas can be held, but without an audience. It is also worth mentioning that if the series resumes on day 19 the “yacht declaration” has already been made and therefore no changes can be made to the boat, sails aside. In the event of a postponement to Feb. 26, as Ineos and the New Zealand organizers would like, it cannot be ruled out that the British team may request the possibility of restocking the boats given the long period of downtime before the next regatta.
The final decision will be made late today’s Italian evening.