Prada's last-gasp entry into the Louis Vuitton Cup yachting finals after their drama-packed semifinals has given the team invaluable experience for the best-of-nine series against AmericaOne, skipper Francesco de Angelis said today
Prada’s last-gasp entry into the Louis Vuitton Cup yachting finals after their drama-packed semifinals has given the team invaluable experience for the best-of-nine series against AmericaOne, skipper Francesco de Angelis said today. But he added the Italians would need everything to work well and for luck to go their way if they intended beating the Paul Cayard-led challenge for the right to sail Team New Zealand for the America’s Cup.
The finals begin tomorrow with Cayard’s St Francis Yacht Club entry considered a slight favourite ahead of Prada. The sailing rules have been modified for the finals, with the 23-knot wind limit at which races can be abandoned dropped, although winds must still be below 18 knots for racing to start. In reality, strong winds and difficult seas would see racing called off by officials for safety reasons. AmericaOne’s favouritism is based on Cayard’s experience, which includes being a losing America’s Cup finalist in the last two regattas, and AmericaOne’s eight-second win over Luna Rossa in the toughest race of the regatta to date.
While Luna Rossa lost that race, it also dropped two others due to gear failures, and only secured its berth in the finals when America True beat its rivals Stars & Stripes. De Angelis said his team learned from the difficulties of the semifinals, and the pressure applied on them would be useful. “Actually I consider that for us it was a good thing,” he said. “We are lacking a lot of experience and that was an opportunity to gain some more. All the races are always a way to learn. Now it’s time to do our best.”
Cayard said it might be the team best able to recover from critical losses who won the day. He expected the finals to last seven to nine races, which meant his own team would lose some. “This could boil down to who can get back up again better than the other guy. “There could be some heart-breaking races, losing a race by one second after leading all the way around the course. And the way you deal with that could make the difference. “I think we’re prepared, we’re happy to be in the final against Prada, we believe we have a solid team and we’re ready to put it on the line.”
Prada were today formally given permission by the America’s Cup arbitration panel to withdraw a protocol protest against Team Dennis Conner, with Prada asked to pay $225 costs. However, that does not affect Prada’s ability to bring a similar case against AmericaOne, who have also broken the protocol, and who are also unable technically to sign a declaration they have met all the racing rules. Prada said syndicates breaking rules should be declared invalid challengers, so they could not race Team New Zealand. De Angelis did not rule out further protests being lodged by Prada. “There are the rules, and if the rules are not broken there is no reason to make any protests,” de Angelis said. The Louis Vuitton Cup winners are the first team to secure five points, which could be affected by protest room decisions, rather than five wins.