This is where things get serious: the countdown is starting for the America’s Cup 2021. On the route towards the Regatta of all regattas stand the keenly awaited World Series: from the 17th to the 20th December, the three challengers and the defender will meet for the first time on board an AC 75, the class of boat designated for the 36th edition of the America’s Cup presented by Prada.
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The World Series do not represent a new feature of this most prestigious sailing event, but this time they are of great significance, because the previous competitions in Cagliari and Portsmouth had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. Now, finally, the time has come: it is one thing to see the boats training at sea or in videos, but an altogether different story to line them up on the starting line. This is already a guarantee of a wonderful spectacle for the public.
But above all this will be a strategic moment for the teams, who will be able to assess their performances - after over two years of research, development and dedicated training - and to understand how they each stack up in relation to the others. With positive and negative surprises.
There will be four of them at the off
Competing in the event will be the defender the Emirates Team New Zealand together with the three challengers: the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team, the Ineos Team UK and the New York Yacht Club American Magic. They will do battle during four days of match racing in the Hauraki Gulf. The first is scheduled for 3 pm on the 17th December and will see the Emirates Team New Zealand actually competing against the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team, the Challenger of Record.
For the technically-minded, it will be interesting to understand how each team has interpreted the new design rule for the AC 75. There are significant differences between all four of the vessels launched and now we shall be able to see how they perform in a real challenge. Up to the 19th, there will be four Round Robin regattas each day, such that each team can challenge each of the other teams twice. These will be match races of around 30 minutes, over a windward-leeward course with the outward leg downwind and a windward and leeward “gate”.
The Christmas Race
The classification resulting from the first three days will determine not only the winner of the Prada America’s Cup World Series but also the couplings in the Christmas Race regatta, due to take place on 20th December. The first two in the classification will race against the fourth and the third respectively. The winners will face each other in the final, whilst the other teams will take part in a Mini Final for third and fourth place. Here too there will be regattas lasting no longer than 25-30 minutes, true “sprints” in a range of windspeeds between 6.5 and 21 knots, as set out in the regulations.
The programme for the event will be enriched by numerous land-based activities, with the opening of the Village, where every morning people will be able to watch the dock out show of the teams and follow the races via screens set up inside. If the new AC 75 vessels spark a good deal of enthusiasm this will naturally be in no small part thanks to the marvellous Hauraki Gulf, the location which has twice been the host for the Cup: in 2000 when the home players were able to beat the Luna Rossa and in 2003 when on the contrary they had to hand over the “Old Jug” to the Swiss team with their Alinghi.