The pictures of the past few weeks looked like paradise: tens of thousands of fans celebrated happily together in the current America's Cup capital, Auckland. In the middle of the New Zealand summer, they enjoyed the live broadcasts in the Cup Harbor or watched the races from land and water. But now the festival is over for the time being, because the Covid pandemic has returned to the island nation.
After a brilliant 2-0 start, Italy's cup hunters were able to win races three and four in the challenger final for the PradCup and expand their lead in the "First to win seven" series to 4-0, but that was for the time being the last sailing act at the Cup summit off Auckland, because on Sunday New Zealand's Prime Minister JacindArdern ordered a level 3 lockdown for the "City of Sails" and a level 2 lockdown for the rest of the Pacific island state for at least three days.
What the sailors said about the races and the Covid lockdown in Auckland
The gaps were sometimes extremely close, but the picture from the previous day didn't change much on day two of the Prada Cup final: The Italian LunRossPradPirelli team set the standard, the Ineos Team UK fought intensely, but initially couldn't turn the tide
The Covid pandemic is back in New Zealand and it's affecting what's happening in the America's Cup as well. The organizers of America's Cup Event Ltd. have scheduled the next race day of the final series for the PradCup on February 17th. already postponed indefinitely. They have closed the venue in the port of Auckland to the public and announced that they will work closely with the authorities on further planning.
So far possible without any problems: the fan festival in the port of Auckland. After the new Covid cases became known, the next encounters were postponed for the time being and access to the Race Village was prohibited
According to reports by the New Zealand daily newspaper "New Zealand Herald", there are three "new and active" Covid cases in southern Auckland, with a mother, a father and a daughter from Papatoetoe. New Zealand has always met the pandemic successfully with hard lockdowns. Those who entered the America's Cup had to undergo strict quarantine requirements. The pandemic appeared to have been defeated in the island state by this new outbreak - which is why tens of thousands of fans gathered in the New Zealand summer at happy fan events without special protective measures. All of this is over for now. The organizers want to announce in the coming days how things can go on with the challenger finals for the PradCup and the America's Cup.
The Prada Cup final is 4-0 for Patrizio Bertelli's LunRossPradPirelli Team against the British Ineos Team UK on hold. The challenger for America's Cup defenders New Zealand is determined. The 36th America's Cup match is slated to begin on March 6th.
Still possible without a Covid lockdown interruption: the races from the second day of the final in the Prada Cup final in replay
Sir Ben Ainslie and his Ineos Team UK face big challenges with a score of 4-0 in the challenger final. "LunRossa" helmsman Francesco Bruni is also keeping a close eye on how the British intend to master them
Will they be the challengers for Emirates Team New Zealand in the 36th America's Cup match? With the score of 4: 0 for the Italians in the Prada Cup final, there are many indications. Nevertheless, helmsman Francesco Bruni urged caution: "The tide can turn quickly."
Ainslie fans number one and two: wife Lady Georgie Ainslie and their daughter Bellatrix
Despite the excitement in New Zealand, the sailors commented on the races themselves in the subsequent press conference, initially around 16 knots and later less wind. The British skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, whose team had lost both starts before very competitive and close encounters, said: "We just have to get better off the line. I think we are dealing with two equally strong boats. You (Red.: the Italians) had a really impressive day and we made no mistakes. We will come back and fight even harder. We know that we have the right boat in the wind. We know that we can win races. We have to go the entire course sail better. " Ainslie regretted that it would not be possible to sail next Wednesday, with a view to the predicted strong winds, but said at the same time that the health of the people had to come first. For the Italians, the two co-helmsmen Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill took stock. Spithill said, "Today our grinders beat the other guys with simple muscle power." When asked about the increasing fan cheer in the Italian homeland, LunRossa's helmsman Francesco Bruni said: "I get thousands of emails every day. But we have to stay focused. The tide can turn quickly." The Covid virus has now taken care of that.
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This video clip developed into a hit not only in America's Cup fan circles over the weekend. This is how the LunRossPradPirelli team sees the situation in the Prada Cup final …