Nine leadership changes and a thrilling duel: After the start was postponed and the Cunningham problem with the British, the only real duel of the day was on Saturday night outside Auckland for Sir Ben Ainslie's British Ineos Team UK and the Italian LunRossPradPirelli Team with the two helmsmen Francesco Bruni and Jimmy Spithill down to business. After the dramatic capsizing and almost sinking of the American "Patriot" last weekend, the third meeting between the British and the Azzurri was on the agenda. The good news: With the many changes at the top and a strong fighting spirit, the race was the best of the series of challengers so far - and also the last.
Here you can enjoy the most exciting scenes again …
Before the only real race of the day in 18 to 22 knots of wind, team director and skipper Max Siren had said: "I already knew at the Christmas race that the British performance was not up to their real capabilities. We all know that Ben was probably one of the greatest sailors on The planet is. And so is Giles. He's probably the man of the future. We know we're under pressure, but we'll fight to the end."
Ben Ainslie, still without a win at the Christmas prelude and subsequently criticized like a student who came home with a six, said before the start of the decisive race against the Italians on Saturday for the outcome of the Prada Cup preliminary round: "We're going with the intensity of the encounter that is needed to win. We want to beat them and we will give everything to make it to the Prada Cup final today. " Ainslie also explained why it was so important to him: "Moving directly into the final gives you more time. And time is everything in this game." While the semi-finalists - Italians and Americans - have to go back to work on January 29th, the British, who are now seeded for the Prada Cup final, have until February 13th to further optimize their boat.
Do not have to work again until February 13th in the Prada Cup final: Skipper and helmsman Ben Ainslie and his trusted tactician Giles Scott
No intermediate result that "LunRossa" helmsman Francesco Bruni likes a lot. Together with the second helmsman Jimmy Spithill and the entire team, the Italians will try to make their boat even faster until the semifinal start on January 29th
How the leading sailors of the teams reacted to the decision in the fight for direct entry into the Prada Cup final
The barrel laps tell the story of the decisive race: After both teams had a successful start, the British had two seconds ahead of the first lap and nine seconds ahead of the second lap. Then the Italians took over, rounded the mark with 19 seconds after the third section and 10 seconds ahead after the fourth. Both boats then sailed towards their destination almost bow to bow. When the British finally gained a small lead, there was a close encounter in which the Italians protested against the Ineos Team UK in a classic port-starboard situation. The television presenters spoke of a "Hollywood maneuver" in view of the almost theatrical attempt by helmsman Jimmy Spithill to impose an irregularity on the British. The referees dismissed the protest.
The statistics for the Prada Cup duel between the British and the Italians: impressive!
The successful path leads from the challenger series (PradCup) to the 36th duel for the America's Cup
After the decisive duel, four-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie said: "Today was a race for the fans - pretty exciting and with a lot of leadership changes. We take our hats off to the guys from LunRossa, who put a lot of pressure on. We had a few problems the way to the pre-start phase. We were missing a few key settings for the power on board. But our guys did a great job in bringing us safely over the course. " The British sailed well too, shining with strong positioning and successful maneuvers, while the Italians showed some weaknesses at the first tack. Not only the two-time Olympic champion and TV commentator Shirley Robertson stated: "The America's Cup is not just about engineering. The trust between Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott (editor: tactician, Finn Olympic champion) is part of the British success."
The British have now secured a lot of time to make their boat even faster with their 6-0 preliminary round record. To do this, they had to compete and start early on Saturday morning in the "ghost race" without the American opponents who were known to be prevented with a hole in their torso. After that, Ineos Team UK was set for the Prada Cup final and can now wait for the winner of the semi-final duel between the Italian preliminaries and the third-placed Americans who are still struggling to repair and make a comeback of their "Patriot". Ainslie's sailing team celebrated their first successful step on the way to the desired America's Cup match against the defending Emirates Team New Zealand with the visibly enthusiastic racing team owner Jim Ratcliffe on board. The champagne bottle that was passed around, however, is not the price the team has in their sights. The British have lined up to finally bring home the silver jug that was lost and never won in their own territory at the Cup premiere in 1851.
Here you can find information about the PradCup and the America's Cup (please click!).
Flew over the course at top speeds of more than 50 knots: the again victorious "Britannia"
Auckland's famous Sky Tower in sailcloth: the symbol of the "City of Sails" changes colors again and again. The Kiwis celebrate the PradCup and America's Cup, visible from afar