As the Event Organizer of the 36th America’s Cup, America’s Cup Event Limited (ACE) is navigating the issues during the New Zealand government’s COVID-19 lockdown for Auckland. But as ACE considers the commercial elements to ensure spectators and sponsors are fulfilled, the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team is growing impatient.
The Italians lead the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series by 4-0, and need just three more wins to advance to the America’s Cup. While ACE is willing to delay the schedule until the lockdown is lifted, Luna Rosa wants to play on, and is willing to do so with an empty stadium if needed.
While their opponent INEOS Team UK is predictably pleased with any delay that would help them, here is what the Challenger of Record had to say on February 17, 2021:
Challenger of Record America’s Cup 36 (COR 36) – the organizer of the PRADA Cup – urged America’s Cup Events (ACE) to request an exemption to carry on the Final of the PRADA Cup in compliance with the Racing Calendar and in order to meet the legitimate expectations of the competitors involved, of the international public and of the international television networks who have already programmed their broadcastings.
Unfortunately this did not happen, notwithstanding a protocol and a procedure which were put in place since months in the event such circumstance would occur. COR 36 has been now informed by ACE that they are discussing with the Authorities different options, including the postponement of the racing to the 26th of February; this is in total breach of the regulations, which set the 24th of February as the end of the PRADA Cup, without any possible extension.
COR 36 is indeed endeavoring to ensure that the PRADA Cup Final resumes as early as the 19th of February whilst respecting public health and the protocols imposed by the New Zealand government. COR 36 has also offered its full support to ACE and to the local authorities to immediately implement the Level 3 Alert management plan provided for by the AC36 Event COVID-19 Management On Land and On Water Plans.
These plans provide that, in a level 3 COVID-19 alert, the AC36 Village shall be closed and the regattas shall resume “behind closed doors”, without any public, as it already happens for many international sporting events (Formula 1, Australian Open, etc.).
This on water management plan has already been tested and can therefore be immediately activated with the approval of the Authorities. Since teams are authorized to sail and practice under COVID-19 level 3 alert, it is hard to understand why racing “behind closed doors” could not be allowed applying the same protocols.
In this context, and in compliance with the regulations, there is no reason to further delay the carrying on of the regattas as scheduled, giving both teams the opportunity to complete the number of races required by the series within the terms and deadlines imposed by the racing calendar.
It should be reminded that otherwise Rule A2.3(b) of Appendix A to the World Sailing Racing Rules of Sailing America’s Cup edition Version 3.03 for the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA – which provide that “….the winner is the team with the highest score at the date of the final scheduled date” – would apply.
COR 36 hopes not to apply this provision and that an exemption to allow racing at the scheduled dates will be granted.
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