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PRADA Cup Round Robin Day 3: An eventful day on the Hauraki Gulf

by INEOS TEAM UK 17 Jan 2021 01:03 PST 15 January - 22 February 2021
PRADA Cup Day 3: Round Robin 2 - The first INEOS TEAM UK vs Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli race was abandoned due to a significant windshift © COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

In a day that was saddened by the capsize of American Magic, the changeable weather on the Hauraki Gulf threw strong winds, shifts, rain and chop at the Challengers of the PRADA Cup.

Speaking about American Magic's capsize Ben Ainslie said:

"I don't know much about what happened. I've seen a video of the manoeuvre and it's just horrific. You don't want to see that happen to anyone. Everyone is OK which is the primary concern.

"We go out there and race hard against each other but this is a sporting contest and we want everyone to be safe and we want everyone to be racing. I feel for those guys, for Dean, Terry and the rest of the team and I hope they are able to sort things out and get back on track."

Race 1 - INEOS TEAM UK WIN vs. LUNA ROSSA deficit +18 seconds

Sailing on the most northerly course, Course A, racing got started between INEOS TEAM UK and Luna Rossa on time at 1515 NZDT / 0215 GMT. The breeze was 15-20 knots with a choppy sea state.

INEOS TEAM UK made an unforced error in the pre-start, going out of bounds, and fell 11 seconds behind Luna Rossa at the top mark. A close race ensued, until the fifth leg when a big 90 degrees wind shift caused the conditions to drastically change. The result of a large rain squall sweeping across the course.

The wind shift was called by Helmsman Ben Ainslie and Tactician Giles Scott, who capitalised on it, leading to INEOS TEAM UK briefly taking the lead, before the Race Committee abandoned the race which had become a reach to the windward mark.

The course was repositioned to the west and the start was set again for 1635 in an increasing 16-20 knot breeze.

In their second pre-start of the day a well-timed run led to INEOS TEAM UK starting to windward, however the team quickly fell into Luna Rossa and were forced to tack off. The shifty conditions in the first leg led to ITA rounding the top mark with a 10 second advantage.

Over the course of the subsequent legs the teams split searching for the most pressure. By the third gate, both teams rounded opposite the top mark in a dead heat.

On the following downwind leg INEOS TEAM UK kept to the right-hand side of the course, with the Italians on the other extreme on the left. The decision paid off for the Brits, and the lead change came.

From then on it was advantage GBR. Expertly guided through the course by Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott, BRITANNIA built a strong lead of 26 seconds at the final bottom mark. Despite Luna Rossa cutting into the deficit slightly over the two leg, it was not enough, and INEOS TEAM UK took the win and their fourth point of the PRADA Cup by an 18 second deficit.

Speaking upon returning to dock INEOS TEAM UK Skipper Ben Ainslie said:

"That was a full-on day today. We had between 5 and 25 knots on the racecourse and big sea waves out in the Hauraki Gulf. It was a big challenge.

"The team did an incredible job dealing with the sea state in particular. We had a few near wipe outs and were very close to losing our rudder out of the water. These boats are not designed for 0.5M-1M sea waves and going downwind we had our rudder approximately 300M beneath the water level at the top of the waves. In those conditions you just have to hang on and muscle your boat around the course and the guys did a really good job.

"The first start was particularly windy, and we got distracted with the handling of the boat and went outside the boundary by a couple of seconds. That gave us a penalty and we were slightly late for the start. We were dealing with some quite out of the ordinary decisions.

"Then the second race we had a much better start, we liked the right-hand side of the course and we had a good fight to get it. It was a pretty even start.

"From then on it was a sailor's race for sure. In the last three days the boats have been pretty even, and the sailors have been able to make a big difference to the races. Giles did a great job again. He and I have a great relationship on the boat and are working well together which is important to our continued success.

"The whole team have been incredible over these last few days. We now have to regroup, review the forecast for next weekend, identify what changes we want to make to the boat and keep improving and taking the whole team forward."

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