After light winds saw the cancellation of the Christmas Cup, Luna Rossa team director Max Sirena warned we would see more displacement racing during the Prada Cup Challenger Series.
It only took until the second day for his warning to prove true.
In what was a bizarre race to finish out the opening round robin, Luna Rossa beat American Magic by more than a leg for their first win of the series, frustrating the Americans who seemed to call out Cup officials for going ahead with the race.
Both teams spent plenty of time racing off their foils in displacement in low, patchy winds and through two legs had at one point had a half-a-leg lead on their opponent.
After the crushing defeat, American Magic helmsman Dean Barker was unhappy with the decision to go ahead with sailing despite the low winds and seemed to have a veiled dig at officials.
“[You could] call that a lottery yeah … pretty marginal. You question why you want to do that as part of the event. But it is what it is. Swings and roundabouts and it obviously didn’t go that well for us.
When asked why Luna Rossa didn’t go with bigger headsails, Barker said: “Leading up to the start we didn’t expect to be sailing in that light a breeze. It was a bit of a surprise that it got so light.
“It is just connecting the dots. Everyone is struggling.”
It was a horror start for the Americans. After appealing unsuccessfully for a penalty on the Italian following a close cross in the pre-start, both teams dropped off their foils and were already having to work hard to get flying again.
The Italians did so before long, while the Americans remained beached for much of the remaining two-minutes before the start.
As Luna Rossa flew down the first leg, American Magic again fell off the foils midway through the leg, and were racing in displacement until just before the marker, which they rounded more than seven minutes after Luna Rossa.
But while American Magic had their struggles in the opening leg, Luna Rossa had their own in the second. The America’s quickly ate through the lead as Luna Rossa couldn’t get foiling and halfway down the leg found themselves in the lead.
Both teams’ struggles to stay up saw the race shorted from six legs to four early in the second leg.
Soon after, Luna Rossa flew back into the lead as they were able to get up on their foils before their counterparts to lead by one minute at the second marker.
From there, they never relinquished the lead – managing to chase the breeze all the way down the last leg to stay on their foils the whole way down and close out a strange race.
Heading into the Cup racing?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.
• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup Village.
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.
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