Auckland, New Zealand (January 30, 2021) – After Luna Rossa dominated day one of the semi-final stage of the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series, milder weather offered American Magic an opportunity to even the score. Both teams needed four wins to advance, and the Italians already had two.
But it soon became painfully clear for USA that while they had been in in repair mode since their accident on January 16, the Italians were improving their boat which they estimate to have advanced by a measure of 10%. More so, the Luna Rossa team was sailing better. Their comms, their tactics, their maneuvers were flawless.
After a three year campaign, the capsize and crash by American Magic proved to be too high a hill to climb. Commentator Ken Read, when conferring with an electrical expert about the American’s recovery, noted their efforts were admirable as “what they tried to do was impossible.”
While an achievement to be back on the course today, the New York Yacht Club had hoped for more after an 18 year absence from the America’s Cup, but their exit would come painfully quick after failing to earn a win before elimination today in the Prada Cup.
For the Italians, now in their fifth challenge to win the America’s Cup, their 4-0 victory in the semi-finals earns them a seat in the Prada Cup Finals against INEOS Team UK on February 13.
Semi-Final Series, Race 3
With a change to Course A, the 10-12 knot northeast winds were coming straight from the ocean, providing a stable playing field where speed triumphs. With ITA coming in from the port end, both teams avoided conflict until the final starboard approach. But with USA ahead and to leeward, ITA had their timing better, and as USA skipper Terry Hutchinson said afterwards, “We had to take Plan B, and it was Plan B for a reason.”
The reason was the right side was favored, and when the two teams tacked off the left border, ITA had a higher mode that crushed the Americans, and from that moment on, as Hutchinson said, “We were picking up scraps.” Commentator Nathan Outteridge was more succinct: “When one boat is quicker than the other, and without many wind shifts, there’s not much you can do.”
ITA seemed quicker upwind, and while USA might be better offwind, the 3-lap race was never close, with ITA finishing in 26:09 and beating USA by 35 seconds.
Semi-Final Series, Race 4
With a slight increase in wind, the USA entered the start box from the port side with a bone in their teeth, one loss away from elimination. The two teams kept their distance until the final approach on starboard, with USA pushing ITA from behind. But the Italians got the timing right, crossing the start clear ahead and in control.
“The teams are reliant on software during the start,” remarked commentator Nathan Outteridge, regarding time and distance to the line. “Maybe the USA have problems there.” Maybe so, as this was the fourth race in a row they lost the start, and their problems would soon increase.
While gremlins following their accident hadn’t been noticeable, they roared in this race as the foil arms failed to respond to the controls, and USA soon was collecting boundary penalties when unable to tack or gybe. It was a sorry ending for the New York Yacht Club team, but full credit to Luna Rossa which sailed flawlessly to complete the three lap course in 23:30, beating the Americans by 3:51.
USA skipper Terry Hutchinson struggled for words in expressing the loss. “It’s brutal. It’s just brutal. We’ve had a lot of people supporting us, and I hold a responsibility, so it’s disappointing for it to end like this.”
Semi-Final Scoreboard (wins-losses)
American Magic (USA): 0-4
Luna Rossa (ITA): 4-0
The PRADA Cup is a series of four round robins (Jan. 15-17 and Jan. 22-24), with the winner of the series qualifying for the PRADA Cup Final and the remaining two Challengers going into a Semi-Final Series (Jan. 29-Feb. 2) for the right to join the Round Robin winner in the Final (Feb. 13–22). The winner of the PRADA Cup will then face the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, in the America’s Cup Match beginning March 6.