New Zealand

America’s Cup 2021: Challenger of Record Luna Rossa hits back after new delay rule scrapped for Prada Cup semifinals

The America’s Cup race management team and Challenger of Record Luna Rossa say there has been some confusion over a trial rule that will not be adopted for the Prada Cup semifinals.

Yesterday, the Herald reported on American Magic’s frustration at the decision not to implement the delay system trialled in the final round-robin race, in which a team could call for a 15-minute delay before the start of a contest if they were having any issues on board.

The rule was only introduced for the third and fourth round robins – of which only the third was sailed – due to issues on board Luna Rossa earlier in the regatta.

According to Luna Rossa sailor Pierluigi de Felice, the rule was never intended to be used in any other stages.

“I think there was a bit of a misunderstanding about that rule. It was initially just brought in when we started having an issue with our racing software for the round robin,” de Felice said.

“It was never contemplated to extend it into the semifinal or other stages. I see there is a little bit of confusion around that, but we as a team and as the Challenger of Record didn’t receive any request from American Magic about that.”

Representative of the Challenger of Record Francesco Longanesi Cattani confirmed the COR received no communication from American Magic around their desire to have the rule implemented again and therefore saw no reason to keep it in play.

“It expired automatically after round-robin four and therefore the general rule applies again,” Cattani said.

For the rule to be reintroduced, both the Challenger of Record and Defender would have had to agree upon it, but race director Iain Murray said it didn’t get to a point where the Defender’s input was needed.

Traditionally, a delay card or something similar has been a feature of America’s Cup cycles as a way to further ensure fair sailing, however there was nothing in the rules for the 36th America’s Cup that stated anything of the sort would be used.

The trial was only introduced this year after Luna Rossa’s claims of having issues with their software at the start of a race against American Magic.

American Magic and Luna Rossa face off in the first semifinal races on Friday. Photo / Dean Purcell
American Magic and Luna Rossa face off in the first semifinal races on Friday. Photo / Dean Purcell

“We sort of got into a bit of he-said she-said over the electronic systems one day, so I called for the 15-minute delay card rather than trying to referee whose fault it was during the starting process,” Murray explained.

“That was adopted for rounds three and four on a trial basis only … it has never been in for this [the Prada Cup] or the America’s Cup or anything else.”

Ineos Team UK took advantage of the trial in round-robin three for their race against Luna Rossa, calling a delay to allow them to try to fix an issue on board. In that time, they were able to get the issue to a point where they could still sail and went on to win the race and, consequentially, the round-robin phase of the Prada Cup.

Murray said he believed Luna Rossa were happy with the systems on board now, indicated by them not asking to reintroduce the rule for the semifinal.

It would have provided something of a safety net for American Magic, who have had just two days on the water since repairing their boat which was damaged in a capsize two weeks ago.

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