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Shot across the bow

As usual the sparring on the water is superseded by the sparring in the media, and not nearly as much fun.

For those who just came in, here’s a recap.

On 17 February, with Auckland still in Covid-19 Level 3 and the Government due to announce whether Auckland would remain in level 3, America’s Cup Events (ACE) announced that if the Covid-19 alert went to level one, then racing in the Prada Cup Finals would resume as per the schedule.

However, if it stayed at level 3 or went to level 2, meaning a major downgrade of spectator activities, racing would not recommence until Friday, 26 February. Race 1 of the America’s Cup would subsequently begin a week later on Saturday 13 March.

This was huge. Moving the America’s Cup is like moving Australia.

The press release duly noted that the Challenger of Record was not happy, and that ACE was not happy that CoR was not happy.

The Government was never going to take Auckland straight to level 1, because Jacinda always moves only one level at a time.

So the Challenger of Record, which is Prada Pirelli, which is leading Ineos Team UK on 4 points to nil, fired off its own press release: that racing should go ahead. It said that if both teams did not have the opportunity to complete the Prada Cup Finals series within the terms the racing calendar, then Rule A2.3(b) of Appendix A to the World Sailing Racing Rules of Sailing America’s Cup edition Version 3.03 for the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA would apply.

As everyone knows, that rule says “….the winner is the team with the highest score at the date of the final scheduled date”.

At 4.30pm on Wednesday, 17 February, the Government announced that Auckland would go to level 2. ACE confirmed its earlier position regarding level 2.

CoR called a press conference for 11am, Thursday 18 February to present its opposing point of view. They weren’t going down without a tacking duel, media style.

What happened next was excellent time-on-distance skills. With precision timing, 11 minutes before the press conference, came the shot across the bow: ACE announced that racing would go ahead, with a few conditions. This was long enough for the participants of the press conference to read it, but have no time to respond.

The conditions included:

· Racecourses B & C will not be used for racing, to mitigate the chance of large public gatherings on shore.

· No public viewing opportunities such as dock out shows or public screening of racing in the race village.

· All bars, restaurants and cafes surrounding the Race Village can remain open in line with Ministry of Health COVID-19 Level 2 Guidelines.

· Public are reminded to always scan the NZCOVID19 Tracer App.

Some comments, not included here, were below the waterline.

This last minute announcement put CoR in the position of showing up in the boxing ring only to find the other guy has sort-of surrendered but the crowd still expect a show.

Anyway, the outcome is that, weather permitting, races 5 and 6 between Ineos Team UK and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli will resume at 4pm, NZT, on Saturday, 20 February. Racing will continue daily until the conclusion of the PRADA Cup on or before Wednesday 24 February.

Ineos has released a statement that attempts to smooth troubled waters and agree with all parties.

The important questions are: Will the Italians continue their winning streak?

Or will Ben’s Boys pull a comeback from their week of lay days?

Photo: Press conference, 18/02/21 - officials from left: Bruno Troublé (COR 36), Iain Murray (Regatta Director), Francesco Longanesi Cattani (COR 36), Alessandra Pandarese (COR 36)

Credit: © COR 36 | Studio Borlenghi

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