America’s Cup 2021: Luna Rossa speak out on Prada Cup delays – live press conference

The America’s Cup Challenger of Record (COR) has doubled down on their desire to resume the Prada Cup final series instead of waiting until Auckland goes back to level 1 Covid-19 restrictions.

Luna Rossa currently lead Ineos Team UK 4-0 in the best of 13 series with the winner to face Emirates Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup match. Racing was set to continue yesterday but was postponed when Auckland went into level 3 restrictions on Sunday night.

In a press release issued yesterday, America’s Cup Event Limited (ACE) confirmed a disagreement with the COR Luna Rossa existed over whether to delay the Prada Cup final series should Auckland remain under strict Covid-19 restrictions.

In the statement, ACE said if Auckland’s alert level dropped to 1, then racing would resume this weekend. However, the Prime Minister yesterday announced it would drop to level 2 from midnight.

Under level 2, ACE said racing would not continue until next week.

“If the alert level remains at 3 or 2, which obviously entails restrictions in gatherings and difficulties with events, racing and event activations would need to be rescheduled to recommence the Prada Cup Final on Friday 26 February,” the statement said.

No official decision had been made by ACE since the government’s 4.30pm announcement yesterday of lifting the level 3 restriction. Ineos Team UK backed the plan to delay the event.

Luna Rossa released a statement late on Wednesday saying they were surprised by the statements published by ACE and by INEOS Team UK.

“From day one of the teams’ activities in New Zealand, protocols have been put in place, together with ACE and all government bodies, to allow teams and organizers alike to operate in the different COVID-19 alert levels, enabling them to prepare and race behind closed doors, if need be, as happens in the Formula1, Australian Open and other events; the priority in these contexts is clearly the health of the people involved,” a Luna Rossa statement said.

“The Challenger of Record has confirmed that it is possible to race in total safety and has also offered full support to ACE and local Authorities for the application of the protocol indicated by the AC36 Event COVID-19 Management On Land and On Water Plans for the Covid-19 alert. There is no reason why teams that are allowed to train during this alert level should not be allowed to race, albeit behind closed doors, according to the same protocol.

“The weather conditions for the next few days are ideal to carry out top level racing.
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is ready to race against INEOS Team UK on Friday February 19th, in compliance to the program of the Prada Cup Finals that which must end no later than February 24th.”

“Even more so, now that the government has taken the decision to go down from Level 3 to Alert Level 2, allowing the regattas to take place in full respect of everyone’s safety.”

The Challenger of Record is set to hold a press conference today.

ACE chair Tina Symmans told the Mike Hosking Breakfast on Newstalk ZB that they were asking Luna Rossa to change their mind.

“It’s a strong conversation, shall we say…really asking the Challenger of Record to consider the Prime Minister’s words ‘to be kind’ and allow by delaying racing for the Prada Cup by a matter of days or about a week so the many fans who have been able to come to the village to be able to do that again, potentially if we went to level 1.

“There’s a better than even chance of that. And for local businesses, restaurants, hotels and retailers to reap the benefits that they have been reaping up until Sunday.”

Symmans said ‘technically’ Luna Rossa were right in wanting to sail as it was within the rules.

“Technically, according to the rules as they are written at the moment, they need to finish racing by the 24th and technically yes they can sail. That is correct. But technically, they can change those rules,” she told Hosking.

“We will continue our discussions and hope we can reach a consensus and an agreement hopefully today.”