Points on the board in Prada Cup Final: Race Day 3 Summary
Saturday, February 20, 2021 11:25 AM
Luna Rossa took the first race of the day, and their fifth of the series, after a tightly fought pre-start featuring three penalties gave ITA control of the race. Ineos Team UK then took their first win of the series in the second race after a much more even start and the team on Britannia winning the first cross. The results in Races 5 and 6 leave the standings at 5-1 to the Italian outfit in the first-to-seven-win series going into Race Day 4 tomorrow.
Race 5 – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Win vs. Ineos Team UK (Delta + 1:20)
The first race of the day took place in the lighter end of the wind spectrum, with the south-westerly sea breeze ranging from 8-11 knots and better pressure on the right-hand side of the course.
As both teams flew to the start line, ITA in a high and slow mode aiming to squeeze GBR and GBR seeking to take the favoured right hand-side of the course, neither team gave an inch. The teams came close to colliding over the start line at the right mark, and both teams were handed penalties for crossing the start early which were offset. GBR, however, were handed a second penalty for infringing the boundary, the ‘keep clear border’, around the Italian boat.
The teams split tacks but as Ineos won the first cross, ITA claimed GBR gained an advantage from their first penalty. The jury consequently gave the British another penalty, which led to the team onboard Britannia having to concede their lead to ITA. From then on, the Italian side controlled the race, taking advantage of the better pressures and not making any mistakes to gradually increase their lead. ITA eventually won by one minute and 20 seconds.
Race 6 – Ineos Team UK Win vs. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (Delta + 0:14)
The south-westerly sea breeze strengthened slightly to 12 knots before the second race of the day. Both teams opted to stick to their same jibs, with GBR keeping their J1 onboard, their largest jib, and the Italians keeping a smaller headsail.
The second pre-start of the day was another even affair. This time round, however, there were no penalties as the teams crossed the start line cleanly, INEOS TEAM UK to leeward. Luna Rossa then tacked off early, with GBR continuing out all the way to the left-hand boundary. The teams were neck and neck heading into the crucial first cross, but as ITA came back on starboard, GBR were ahead on port and chose to tack onto starboard directly in front of the Italians. GBR capitalised on that early advantage and rounded the first mark with an eight second lead.
From then on it was Britannia’s turn to control the racecourse. The team, guided round the course by Ben Ainslie and Tactician Giles Scott, built out small gains, particularly on the downwind legs, to stretch the lead out to 32 seconds at the final bottom gate.
There was late tension, however, as a shift in the breeze and a drop in wind strength in the final two legs saw ITA gain and keep the pressure on. The final upwind leg saw the Italians tighten the lead to only 9 seconds. Nevertheless, GBR maintained their lead over the last downwind leg and ultimately won the race, and their first point of the Prada Cup Final, by 14 seconds.
Speaking from onboard Britannia after racing Team Principal and Skipper Ben Ainslie said:
“We’re a bit happier now we got a win. The guys did a great job in that second race. We’re never going to give up. We will keep fighting all the way. To get one back in that race was what we needed.
“In the first race of the day we wanted the right-hand side of the course for the pressure and it was a pretty close start, but we just fouled out.
“In the second race we saw that from about 12 knots of windspeed up our boats are very even. Beneath that, however, we still struggle and that’s the challenge we’re up against. We’ve just got to do the best we can and keep trying to get better at sailing the boat, particularly in the lighter airs.
“I can’t say enough about the team. They just don’t give up these guys. We’ll keep pushing all the way.”