Prada's attempts to use the protest room to beat Stars & Stripes has met a scathing response

Prada’s attempts to use the protest room to beat Stars & Stripes has met a scathing response, with the Americans’ helmsman Ken Read questioning if the Italians had a win at all costs mentality. Prada complained Stars & Stripes was using a mainsail which was based closely on Young America designs for the semifinals, which would have been against the rules.

They asked for the protest to be withdrawn soon after America True upset Stars & Stripes in racing yesterday, handing Prada the last Louis Vuitton Cup finals berth against AmericaOne. The international jury said it was unhappy the protest was withdrawn because it left serious issues unanswered. Read said he hoped the intensity of the challenge’s expectations did not affect Prada skipper Francesco de Angelis too severely.

“I think the pressure on the Prada syndicate cannot be underestimated,” Read said. “There’s possibly the pressure to win at all costs. I think it was a shame that some of these protests were alleged, because they had a look of desperation. “So I hope that pressure doesn’t get to Francesco (de Angelis).” Read said Team Dennis Conner had been “mad” at the sail protest, which came just days after the challenge was found to have used an illegal rudder and docked the vital point which eventually cost them a sail-off for the finals. “We were mad … because the protest was frivolous. There was zero basis, it was not worth the paper it was written on.” Read said he thought AmericaOne would win the Louis Vuitton Cup. “This protest leaves a bad taste that there’s strange pressures within the Italian camp and they’ll be hard to overcome.” Read said the crew were not thinking of the lost point, and what it had cost them, because the race against America True had been do or die, and they had not pulled it off.

However he said he intended to return for another campaign. “We got a lot out of this boat but we weren’t ready to go home yet. It’s going to hurt for a while, but at the same time we can take this experience and run with it.” Dennis Conner was not sure if he would be back for a ninth America’s Cup, but that would depend on whether he could get the money and how his wife Daintry felt. “It’s very hard to raise money in the United States if the event is in New Zealand. I have a lot of bills left to be taken care of,” Conner said. “I have to see how Daintry feels about it. She’s very important to me. She was having a great time until today, but she’s our biggest and best super fan. She took this very very hard, there’s a bit of shock, she just can’t believe it that this is over. “We really weren’t ready to leave yet.”

Read conceded the Prada versus AmericaOne final was probably the matchup of the best two boats, but perhaps not the best two crew. Boss of the $100 million Prada campaign Patrizio Bertelli had no sympathy for Team Dennis Conner. “We never have compassion for a race. One loses and one wins and that’s it,” he told NZPA. Bertelli said he was delighted that two years’ hard work developing the boat and crew and sailing in New Zealand had been rewarded. De Angelis said his team would now focus on testing for the finals beginning on January 25.

Prada made it to the finals despite two major breakdowns in the last ten races, and a close loss to AmericaOne after being on the wrong end of a tough umpiring call. “You know that there’s been a couple of tough moments in the series, but its over,” he said. “We are happy to be through. “We have to do a lot of work with the two boats, just to optimise everything, getting ready for a tough series again. “AmericaOne’s a very good challenge. They are a very strong team, and I believe that with the format of the finals, the best of nine, the strongest team will come out.”