INEOS Team UK have responded to news of the Prada Cup final resuming this weekend, admitting they believe it’s a “shame” racing was returning while Auckland was still at Alert Level 2.
Tempers have flared between organisers America’s Cup Events [ACE] and Challenger of Record Luna Rossa over the past 48 hours with the Italian syndicate stating they wanted racing to continue as scheduled despite Auckland’s recent Covid-19 outbreak and the restrictions that came with it.
Those emotions boiled over this morning with ACE saying in a stinging statement racing will recommence this weekend after their attempts to delay had “fallen on deaf ears”.
In response, INEOS Team UK have joined ACE’s stance on the situation, although their statement was nowhere near as brutal.
“Whilst INEOS Team UK has not been consulted, we fully respect and will abide by the decision of ACE and will be ready to race as requested,” the British syndicate said in a statement.
“We believe this potential outcome would be a shame for the racing fans in Auckland when the city has done such a wonderful job of staging the regatta.
“Given that it is a possibility that Auckland may move to Level 1 by Monday, we feel that delaying the restart until Monday would enable full spectator participation, even if this means racing continues past 24th February.
“We would like to thank the people of New Zealand for staging a wonderful event and we look forward to the resumption of competition and hope to provide some great racing.”
With racing resuming this weekend while Auckland is still at Alert Level 2, fans will not be able to gather in groups larger than 100 people meaning activities and viewing parties at the America’s Cup Race Village will be affected.
ACE also confirmed courses B and C won’t be used this weekend to mitigate the chance of large public gatherings on shore and events such as dock out shows would not be taking place either.
Luna Rossa currently lead the best-of-thirteen series 4-0 after a strong start last weekend against Sir Ben Ainslie’s crew, meaning they need just three more wins to book a spot in the America’s Cup against defenders Team New Zealand.
At a press conference this morning explaining their stance on the situation, Luna Rossa spokesperson Francesco Longanesi Cattani said he completely disagreed with ACE’s belief the Challenger of Record was focused on winning instead of the safety of New Zealand.
"We honour and respect this country and as I've kept saying, we're honoured and priviledged to be here and involved in such a great event," Longanesi Cattani said.
"I don't think insisting on respecting the calendar and the rules is dishonour and disrespect towards the country - quite the opposite."
TVNZ will still broadcast racing live on TVNZ1 and online.