The G.H. Mumm Champagne was flowing for Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli who sailed to victory today in the PRADA Cup Final. The Italians winning the Series 7-1 over INEOS TEAM UK, now move onto the America’s Cup Match, the ultimate goal four years in the making, starting in 12 days time.
For the second time in their six attempts, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have their name included in the exclusive list of just 36 challengers in 170 years that have made it to the America’s Cup itself.
As happened 20 years ago, the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand will face Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on the Hauraki Gulf to decide who will win the most difficult and oldest trophy in international sport.
Prada Cup Final – Race 8
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat INEOS TEAM UK
Length: 1.85 nm
Current: 0.3 knots @ 007
Wind: 12 knots – 025 degrees
Winner: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – 0:56
Seconds before the pre-start action began, the on board communications aboard INEOS TEAM UK between Skipper Ben Ainslie and his tactician Giles Scott suggested that they had a new move to try.
As Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli came charging into the start box on port, the British were quick to gybe as they entered the zone and chased the Italians out towards the right-hand side of the pre-start zone.
As the boats arrived at the right hand boundary Luna Rossa tacked around while INEOS TEAM UK gybed. The result was to create separation between the two, but it didn’t last for long.
As the pair headed towards the start line INEOS TEAM UK were ahead and to windward, Luna Rossa were chasing from to leeward, but both were early for the start. Slowing down was going to prove tricky, there was very little runway left, especially for the British.
Seconds before the start, INEOS TEAM UK tacked onto port and just managed to stay behind the line but most importantly just managed to cross Luna Rossa who were on starboard and had right of way.
But the close quarters action had seen Luna Rossa start with a penalty as they headed out on starboard leaving the British to head off on port tack.
But, despite having won the start and the first part of the upwind leg, when the pair came back together for the second time the advantage had switched, Luna Rossa were ahead as they crossed on starboard.
From here there was little engagement with each boat taking opposite sides of the course. As they came into the top gate Luna Rossa were on port and took the right hand mark, INEOS TEAM UK took the left hand mark. For the initial part of the leg the British had more breeze on the left-hand side of the course allowing them to stay close. The physical distance on the water was 160 m.
“We’re going to have to do something special here,” said Skipper Ainslie to his tactician over the on board comms.
Meanwhile, the breeze was staying steady at 12 knots.
By gate 2 Luna Rossa had maintained their leading margin of 12 secs as they rounded the left hand mark. In an effort to keep splitting from their opponents, INEOS TEAM UK took the right hand side of the gate. On the second upwind leg the racing took place mainly on the right had side of the course, great for the spectators. After the fourth leg, as the pair approached gate 3 Luna Rossa had increased their lead. As they rounded the left hand mark they were now 34 secs ahead a distance in the water of around 400 m.
Another lap of the course and the Italian lead had grown and never looked likely to reduce. By the finish Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were 56 sec ahead. They had scored their seventh victory. They had now won the PRADA Cup trophy.
Having resisted high fives and open displays of celebration in the races leading up to this point, now there was no holding back, the Italians were over the moon.
“We kept the mistakes down, stayed calm, made good decisions and the boat did the job.” said co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill.
“Pretty good day at the office,” he then said when asked on TV how he felt, clearly struggling to shake off the understated approach that had served them through the Final.
Francesco Bruni was now less reserved.
“Fantastico!” he yelled into the camera, “It’s a great day for us and for Luna Rossa and it’s a great day for Italy. It was a tough Final and we are in for a very good fight in the America’s Cup.”
Sir Ben Ainslie, INEOS TEAM UK Skipper & Team Principal congratulated his opponents. “Well done to Luna Rossa and well done to Italy. It’s a big deal in Italy to get into the America’s Cup again. So congratulations to the team, to Jimmy and Checco and all the boys, they sailed brilliantly and deserve to take the Final. Hats off to them we are obviously disappointed we didn’t get through but we are to go away, back on the drawing board and see what we can do.”
The 36th America’s Cup Match starts in less than two weeks, on the 6th of March with the first race scheduled to start at 4:00 PM NZT – 03:00 UTC.