After four years of dedication, hard work, grit and hundreds of thousands of man hours from the 100+ strong team, INEOS TEAM UK’s 36th America’s Cup campaign came to an end today as Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli won both races in light wind in Race Day 4 of the PRADA Cup Final to win the series 7-1.
Racing took place on Course A, the most northerly course on the Hauraki Gulf, the furthest away course from any land mass, ensuring for a steady breeze and lack of shifts.
Speaking after the day’s action Ben Ainslie said:
“Firstly, I have to say well done to Luna Rossa and well done to Italy. It’s a big deal in Italy getting to the America’s Cup Match again. Congratulations to Jimmy [Spithill], Cecco [Francesco Bruni] and the whole team. They had the better overall package across the range of wind conditions and deserved to take the Final.
“Of course, we are disappointed, but I could not be prouder of the team and how they have dealt with the challenges we have faced over the past four years, and especially since we’ve been here in New Zealand. Every single person in this team worked incredibly hard to turn things around from where we were before Christmas to make the PRADA Cup Final and I’m really proud of that.
“This is a people game and so many people in this organisation have grown massively over the past four years. We’ve learnt a huge amount throughout this campaign and now we need to go back and analyse where we didn’t get it quite right. You look at Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand and they have been in this game 20 and 30 years respectively. That learning and development is key.
“Our backers Jim, John and Andy, the INEOS owners, and the whole of the INEOS group, have been amazing too. It’s been fascinating for us to be alongside some incredible sports teams and high performers like the Grenadiers, the cycling team, the Mercedes F1 team and Eliud Kipchoge.
“With INEOS it’s not just the financial backing, it’s the approach they take to business and why they are so successful. It’s that attention to detail, rigour and determination that we share in the sporting world. They have been amazing backers and partners and we can’t give them enough thanks for that over the past four years.”
“Finally, the support of our families here in Auckland and everyone back home really drove us on, we are just sorry we couldn’t bring it home for you.
“We started this team in 2014 with the goal to bring the America’s Cup back to Britain and as far as we’re concerned, we still need to get the job done”.
Race 7 – INEOS TEAM UK vs. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli WIN (Delta +1:45)
With a steady north-easterly breeze of 10-12 knots ahead of the pre-start, the team on BRITANNIA opted for the J3 headsail, the third largest jib.
A well-executed pre-start, with ITA not engaging the British boat, gave GBR the advantage over the start-line to leeward. Very quickly on the first leg, however, the wind dropped to a light 8-9 knots and the Italian outfit quickly demonstrated their advantage over GBR in the lighter end of the spectrum.
With both teams heading to the left-hand boundary on starboard, ITA were in a difficult position to windward. The Italians, however, had the extra high mode in the light wind and as both teams tacked on the boundary, ITA were still on leeward but now had the lead.
From then on, in a steady 8-10 light breeze throughout the race over Course A, Luna Rossa capitalised on their light air boat speed advantage over INEOS TEAM UK and controlled the race. A 16 second lead at the first top gate was quickly extended to a 1:07 lead at the second top gate. The final delta was 1:45.
Race 8 – Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli WIN vs. INEOS TEAM UK (Delta + 0:56)
The wind remained light going into the second race of the day, with INEOS TEAM UK opting to switch to a larger jib, their J2.
It was another well-executed pre-start for GBR. This time a more aggressive strategy forced ITA into a penalty for crossing the start early which gave GBR the lead at the first cross. Very quickly, however, the Italians superior manoeuvrability in the lighter wind paid dividends for them again. By the second cross ITA had the lead and they crossed the first gate with a marginal 12 second lead. “We’re going to have to do something special here Gilo” was the message from BRITANNIA’s Skipper Ben Ainslie to Tactician Giles Scott, as the Italians’ light wind advantage was clear again, gaining in every manoeuvre.
For the remaining of what would prove to be INEOS TEAM UK’s final race in the PRADA Cup, ITA did not make any mistakes and maintained their lead throughout with a final delta of 56 seconds.
IMAGE © CARLO BORLENGHI