America’s Cup 2021: Ineos Team UK respond to Prada Cup final restart plans

Ineos Team UK will be ready if racing restarts this weekend, but say it’s a “shame” that fans won’t be able to follow the action live with Auckland at alert Level 2.

This week’s Prada Cup final races were cancelled after Auckland went into alert Level 3 following a re-emergence of Covid-19 in the community last week.

After the Government’s announcement that Auckland will move to alert Level 2 until at least Monday, America’s Cup Events (ACE) announced that the Prada Cup final series will continue this weekend despite the organisers being opposed to the idea.

Challenger of Record (COR) Luna Rossa currently lead Ineos Team UK 4-0 in the series and were keen to get back on the water despite ACE requesting a delay until restrictions were lifted to Level 1.

ACE released a statement this morning saying racing would commence this weekend without fans, calling it “against the interests of the public”.

“This is a disappointing situation, it is my responsibility to do my best to run the event with the best interests of the public and all stakeholders in mind,” Chair of ACE Tina Symmans said.

“So with the current impasse, while not agreeing with the Challenger of Record, we want to see the regatta completed on the water.”

In a statement, Ineos Team UK said they respect ACE’s decision, but would have preferred to continue with fans even if racing went after February 24, the previously agreed upon racing calendar by all parties.

“Ineos Team UK has been informed by America’s Cup Event Ltd (ACE) that they are considering recommencing racing on Saturday under the Tier 2 (Level 2) Covid-19 restrictions that apply in Auckland,” the statement reads.

“Whilst Ineos Team UK has not been consulted, we fully respect and will abide by the decision of ACE and will be ready to race as requested.

“We believe this potential outcome would be a shame for the racing fans in Auckland when the city has done such a wonderful job of staging the regatta. The race village will be closed and courses B & C will not be accessible to limit gatherings of over 100 people.

“Given that it is a possibility that Auckland may move to Level 1 by Monday, we feel that delaying the restart until Monday would enable full spectator participation, even if this means racing continues past 24th February.

“We would like to thank the people of New Zealand for staging a wonderful event and we look forward to the resumption of competition and hope to provide some great racing.”

A statement from ACE yesterday sparked a war of words between the organisers and the Challenger of Record, with ACE confirming a disagreement with the COR existed over whether to delay the Prada Cup final series should Auckland remain under strict Covid-19 restrictions.

ACE’s position was to postpone the Prada Cup final series to Friday, 26 February if Auckland was still not at alert Level 1.

“The Challenger of Record (COR36) has made their position very clear in stating their desire to race from tomorrow despite Covid Alert level 3, to complete the Prada Cup final by the 24th February in accordance with the existing Prada Cup conditions,” the statement said.

“They have also stated that if the racing programme cannot be completed by Wednesday (24th) they intend to declare the leading point scorer the winner of the Prada Cup and challenger for the America’s Cup match. Under the current points situation, that would be Luna Rossa team.”

COR hit back with their own statement a short while later, saying that it had urged ACE to request an exemption to carry on the final “in compliance with the racing calendar and in order to meet the legitimate expectations of the competitors involved, of the international public and of the international television networks who have already programmed their broadcastings”.

“Unfortunately this did not happen, notwithstanding a protocol and a procedure which were put in place … in the event such circumstance would occur.

“COR has been now informed by America’s Cup Events, that they are discussing with the authorities different options … this is in total breach of the regulations, which set
the 24th of February as the end of the Prada Cup, without any possible extension.”

In its statement this morning, ACE said pleas to COR to postpone racing “fell on deaf ears”.

“Since Sunday, we have worked really hard on behalf of everyone in Auckland and all Kiwis to give COR the opportunity to demonstrate some honour and respect for this country and delay the Prada Cup until we have a greater chance of everyone being able to enjoy and benefit from being back into Level 1,” said Symmans.

“Clearly they have forgotten the words of their leader Patricio Bertelli at the opening press conference who spoke about how privileged everyone is to be in Auckland without significant Covid restrictions and that therefore everyone has a commitment and responsibility to deliver great sportsmanship and the Prada Cup to be a major sporting event.

“This plea has fallen on deaf ears and it’s clear that their focus is solely on Luna Rossa taking the Prada Cup rather than the greater good of the country who have worked so hard in order to be in a position to stage this event.”

COR said in a press conference this morning that previously agreed upon rules of the regatta must be followed.

An official schedule to the Prada Cup final is yet to be announced.

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