On Saturday, in what was surely the most exciting race of the series, INEOS Team UK beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli to earn a spot in the Prada Cup finals. The race was extraordinarily close, seeing shifty breezes, nine lead changes in just under 30 minutes and boatspeeds topping 50kts. It was the fifth consecutive win for Sir Ben Ainsle’s team, but with just 33 seconds separating the finishes, it was far closer than that sounds. "That race was one for the fans," Ainsle said. "Credit to the Luna Rossa guys for pushing hard. We had few issues leading into the pre-start as we were missing one of the key settings. The guys did an awesome job getting us around the track in one piece and getting the win."
The British team, which struggled in the pre-season races in December, is an unexpected champion. Despite having invented the America’s Cup, in the event’s 160-year history the British have never won it, so this marks an exciting step closer to history being made.
The third challenger in the series, American Magic, suffered a knockdown that resulted in hull damage, effectively putting them out of the round-robin portion of the selection series. Due to a quirk of the rules, however, INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli still had to start the would-be races against American Magic. These “ghost races” were then abandoned shortly after the start.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli will race against the repaired American Magic in a semi-final round, the victor of which will meet INEOS Team UK for another face-off to determine the winner of the Prada Cup. The Prada Cup winner will then go on to face Emirates Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup, held in March.
For more, visit americascup.com