PRADA CUP Preview
Whether it’s for the Challengers or the Defender, the speed at which the entire fleet develops has already taken even the experts by surprise.
To win the America’s Cup, a challenger must first win the PRADA CUP
During the hiatus between the PRADA America’s Cup World Series Auckland and the start of the Challenger selection series, the Prada Cup, it was clear that the teams would continue to develop their boats and their handling techniques, as well as incorporate what they had learned from the three racing days.
Rarely has this level of intensity been seen in preparation for an America’s Cup
The first day’s regatta saw American Magic line up against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and both boats arrived with physical changes.
For the Italians, the most obvious difference was the new cabin fairings. With wind speeds over the deck sometimes reaching over 60 knots, reducing aerodynamic drag is a big problem. This modification seemed to provide the evidence.
For Americans, the helmet now has a newly extended skeg that runs deeper than the original, a change that is believed to increase the aerodynamic efficiency of the helmet by making it easier to seal against the surface of the water, technically speaking, the skeg helps create a better end plate effect.
But his sail plan had also changed with a mainsail that was scalloped on the leech, its trailing edge, an unusual and distinctive change. Interestingly, in the regatta on the second day, the team again used a more conventional style mainsail. Balancing testing and training seemed like part of the two-day strategy.
For this first day, the breeze was in the range of 16-18 knots, a step above the conditions in the ACWS and after several practice outings, the pair completed their first practice lap of the course. Here, the pace was fast and tight. Before Christmas, Luna Rossa had shown how powerful they were with light winds and had indicated that it was the strongest winds that they felt they should develop in particular. This career seemed to suggest that his work was already paying off.
The INEOS UK team was also open about their need to climb the learning curve after their disappointing performance in the ACWS. When they reappeared from a busy hiatus, they appeared to sport a new mast and a new mainsail. And while this was unlikely to be the only technical difference, his performance on the first day of the practice session was an impressive step.
More power, more performance, and a renewed confidence to get into the mix early, they delivered tactical moves that they and others know they are capable of.
In addition, the British were up against the local team, winner of the PRADA America Cup World Series, Emirates Team New Zealand. So while this may have been a tough tidbit, the confident new British performance showed just how far the team had come in just a few short weeks.
But the big surprise came when the Defenders slumped and flipped into an unforced error shortly after gybing. A strong reminder of the fine line all teams tread. Fortunately, no one was injured and straightening the AC75 only took a few minutes. And although the team decided to withdraw from the rest of the day’s races, they were back in operation in time for the next day’s races.
Get a little too high in the jibe
The second day of racing saw technical adjustments and changes throughout the fleet, but the biggest difference was a drop in the breeze to around 10-13 knots, a small difference perhaps for conventional racing yachts, but for these machines, a significantly different set of conditions. .
Pre-start action escalated another level or two
The teams practiced and refined their established game moves along with their responses to those of their opponents. Once again, the intensity increased.
And while the teams will analyze in detail the detail of each tack, jibe, luffing ball and sink, the most surprising thing to observers is how hard these boats are being pushed in sessions that are a warm-up for the Prada Cup that begins on March. Friday January 15th.
Despite all the detailed analysis to be carried out by both the experts and the teams, the overall conclusion from this session is that the Challengers have come close in performance and have narrowed the gap between themselves and the Defender.