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Prada Cup - opening strokes

by Guy Nowell 15 Jan 2021 07:30 GMT
INEOS Team UK - Race 1 - Day 1 - Prada Cup - Qualifiers - January 15, 2021 - 36 America's Cup © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com

If you are American, Italian or Kiwi, today is a day to sit up and take notice. If you are a Brit, watching the GBR Ineos team skippered by Sir Ben Ainslie throw down the gauntlet 2-0 in the opening races of the Prada Cup is cause for celebration. Team GBR weren’t looking too hot for the AC Challenger Series back in December, but as Bob Fisher once told me, “It is never wise to bet against Ben Ainslie.” On camera today, Ainslie said “we’ve changed pretty much everything that we could change. The foils, rig, sails, rudder… The lads in the shed got Christmas Day off, but that was it. They have given us the boat, now all we have to do is sail it.” I wonder what odds Ladbrokes would have offered for today’s score line in favour of the Brits this time yesterday?

It’s very positive all round in Auckland. The Prada Cup and the AC are actually happening, even if there were some speed bumps in the recent past. Sadly, the outlook is less positive in Asia: if anyone thought 2021 was going to be an improvement over 2020, hang on a minute. In Hong Kong, the authorities still think that 147 people stuffed into a double-decker bus is ok on the ‘social distancing’ front, but two in a sailing dinghy isn’t. The Thailand Yacht Show (11-14 February 2021) has been postponed until “later in the year.” The RHKYC’s One Global HKRNVR Memorial Vase Race is postponed “until further notice”, and the Rolex China Sea Race (31 March 2021) has been cancelled. “The Race Committee, in conjunction with our longstanding partner Rolex, will plan for a better and safer Rolex China Sea Race in 2022,” says RHKYC Commodore Denis Martinet. At the same time, Hong Kong Raceweek is under an AP, and “the HK Raceweek team are working towards a rescheduled regatta in March.” Thailand’s Bay Regatta has been “provisionally postponed” until 31 March – 4 April’.

The worst part of all this is the uncertainty of just not knowing when it’s going to end.

Interestingly, other parts of the world are managing to keep on racing – the Vendée Globe has turned into a cliff hanger as the fleet leaders bunch up with (only!) 5,000nm to go. Of course, the Vendée is in reality an A-to-A race, so there are no quarantine problems for the finishers, right? The RORC Transatlantic Race is underway, but the RORC Caribbean 600 has been scratched. The Rolex Fastnet Race, the biggest offshore race in the world, starts on 8 August 2021, registered 400 entries in less than hour when the online entry system opened – and that starts in England and finishes in France this year. Hmmm… interesting.

If, wherever you are, sailing is permitted – enjoy! If, otherwise, be patient and watch the Prada Cup. After all the hoo-hah about broadcast access, it turns out to be very simple. YouTube Live. Just log in, if your region allows.

Guy Nowell, Editor, Sail-World Asia

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