Kiwi sailing commentators Martin Tasker and Peter Lester are predicting an “amazing duel” between INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa when the Prada Cup final gets underway tomorrow.
The two European syndicates will battle it out in a first-to-seven series in Auckland to decide who will challenge Team NZ for the America’s Cup next month.
Tasker and Lester told Breakfast this morning they expected the series to be a seesaw battle.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite so even before,” Tasker said.
“I think it’s, as we’ve seen right the way through, everybody has been progressing up to this now making huge leaps.
“I think it could be an amazing duel.”
Lester added he expects the battle to kick off right away before things even officially start in tomorrow’s first race.
“That pre-start race one will be interesting to see how they approach it,” Lester said.
“I expect to see both teams fight hard, real hard, for the right-hand side with that boundary that comes up so quickly after 45 seconds.”
INEOS Team UK earned their place in the final after stunning sailing fans last month with their performances in the Prada Cup round robins, finishing undefeated despite previously losing by drastic margins a month prior in the Christmas Cup regatta.
Luna Rossa on the other hand showed serious improvement of their own to reach the final, sweeping a struggling American Magic 4-0 in the Prada Cup semi-finals a fortnight ago with a faster boat than the one they’d showed in the Christmas Cup.
Tasker said the form of both boats should make for one of the more thrilling series in America’s Cup challenger series history.
“The traditionalists tend to look back and say, ‘oh it was so exciting’, and maybe once or twice it was,” he said.
“They’re rare moments – we’ve seen more in the Christmas Cup than I think we’ve seen in years of action in the America’s Cup.”
Lester and Tasker say the two teams also have exceptional helmsmen in Jimmy Spithill for Luna Rossa and Sir Ben Ainslie for INEOS Team UK, leaving Tasker wondering if there was only one way to truly determine how the series will finish up.
“Will it come down to the faster boat?” Tasker asked.
“Always does,” Lester answered.
Watch the full interview above to hear more from Tasker and Lester about the series and America’s Cup racing in general.