Ouch.... and ouch!


Yesterday, Saturday 13 February, was the first day of the last stage of the Prada Cup 2021. In America’s Cup terms, it was rare: no American team in the Challengers final. Instead we had Italy of Europe and UK, formerly of Europe. Both wanted the Prada Cup and not only because their wives would love a cup in which the inside is bright red like the soles of Christian Louboutin shoes.

Both teams were claiming to be significantly stronger than the last time they met - but was it swagger or confidence?

And so they went into battle.

Or not.

Most of the wind for race one was the butterflies in the sailors' bellies. Potentially a weak spot for Ineos UK and so it proved. The Brits fell off the foils in the pre-start while Prada stayed in flight and led to the end. Sorry, guys, but that's pretty much how it played out.

Sir Ben was definitely not happy to be racking up his first loss for 2021.

But there was no time to touch that dial. For race two, there was breeze. Both boats changed down jib sizes. This was a whole new course, a whole new breeze and that meant there was nowhere to hide.

Both boats swept into the start box as though they were wearing tiaras to the ball: lots of speed and chutzpah. They sped over the start line like race cars, and we thought we had a boat race.

But although Jimmy Spithill later said they'd made a few mistakes, Prada Pirelli seemed pretty slick. Their lead was mostly around 250m and although both boats were sailing smoothly, Ineos UK was unable to dent the lead. The deltas were in the teens, except the last one which was 26 seconds.

In the post-race interview, Ben Ainslie said they obviously had to find a bit more speed. On paper that seems like a good plan, but he looked unsure about where to start looking.

There is racing again today and then two lay days. Wednesday is scheduled as a race day but already looking doubtful, thanks to bad weather on the way, so potentially we might be looking at a lay week.

Of course, it's early days – or is it? The first team to clock up seven races will win the Prada Cup. The Italians are nearly one-third of the way there.

Caption: Concern on Sir Ben Ainslie after coming into the Prada Cup final on a high, with Francesco Bruni, co-helmsman of Prada Pirelli, right. Photo credit: Carlo Borlenghi.


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