Due to a Covid-19 outbreak in New Zealand, the final races of the PradCup, which started last Saturday and should continue today, have been postponed to Friday. In this final, the Italian team LunRoss and Ineos Team UK are sailing for the right to compete against the New Zealanders in the America's Cup.
In the meantime, the contact chains have been largely identified and the nationwide alert level has been reduced from 3 to 1; for Auckland, however, where the cup teams sail in front of the banks, level 2 still applies. This makes public events with spectators more difficult.
The organizers of the event, or ACE for short, have now brought two new options into play. If warning level 1 will soon also apply to Auckland, it will be possible to sail again at the weekend. If this is not the case, and stage 2 or even 3 would apply, the restart of the PradCup would be postponed by one week to February 27th, the start of the America's Cup would also be postponed by one week to March 13th.
The background of the organizers are apparently financial interests. Because large numbers of viewers, as seen so far, mean income. However, these audience numbers would not be possible under high warning levels.
The two teams affected by a postponement reacted differently, for understandable reasons. The British agreed with the organizer's point of view. With another postponement, you would gain valuable time in order to be able to make technical improvements to the boat. In addition, rather weak winds are forecast for the weekend just above the wind limit of 6.5 knots. In these conditions the Italians had advantages recently. A postponement would increase the chances of the British getting more wind, in the strong wind area they are considered to be the better.
The Italians, on the other hand, want nothing to do with another postponement. They are 4-0 ahead and only need three wins to win the PradCup. They have the momentum of a winning streak on their side and of course they don't want to give the British any additional opportunities. According to their argument, it was even allowed to train under warning level 3, why shouldn't you be able to race at a lower level? Whether this happens with or without a spectator is irrelevant.
In addition, a schedule was agreed in the competition rules, which states that the PradCup will end on February 24th. If it is not possible to sail by then, the winner is the team that is ahead by then. That would be, surprise, the Italians.
How the dispute will end is completely open, from an amicable settlement to a dispute before the arbitral tribunal, anything is possible.