New Zealand

America’s Cup: Light winds could extend delay of Prada Cup final return

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Team UK and Luna Rossa face an intriguing weekend of weather in Auckland for the resumption of the Prada Cup final.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

Team UK and Luna Rossa face an intriguing weekend of weather in Auckland for the resumption of the Prada Cup final.

The delayed resumption of the Prada Cup finals could extend with a tricky light wind forecast threatening Saturday’s schedule.

Will Team UK escape a day of racing in their danger zone or will Luna Rossa get a prime chance to assert their authority in these conditions and extend their 4-0 lead?

That’s a wind puzzle not even regatta director Iain Murray could answer with any decisiveness at his morning briefing in Auckland on Saturday.

STUFF

CUP WRAP: Stuff’s Duncan Johnstone and Todd Niall look at the agreement to resume racing in the Prada Cup final.

Murray has plans to take races five and six in this best of 13 race series to Course E, between Maraetai and Waiheke Island on Saturday.

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But getting action under way will depend on a predicted slight build in the south-westerly to get on top of the early north-easterly in what he terms “a tug o’ war”.

His models showed just 5 knots of wind on the course for the scheduled start time of 4.15 pm.

That slowly increased to around 10 knots by the 6pm cut off time to get racing started.

A steady 6.5 knots is required to get racing under way.

“I have some concerns we will get racing under way on time,” Murray said.

“It’s not overly exciting at 4pm.”

He felt “this is the forecast that has had the most variation” during the regatta that began in mid-January and has had winds at either end of the scale.

“It’s a tug o’ war and the line is right on the harbour,” he explained of the predicted south-wester eventually getting on top.

Sunday’s forecast was more promising with a steady 11-12 knots of north-easterly predicted and that would likely mean taking the racing to the most northern Course A, up the North Shore.

America’s Cup regatta director Iain Murray has his most tricky forecast to deal with on Saturday.

Jason Dorday/Stuff

America’s Cup regatta director Iain Murray has his most tricky forecast to deal with on Saturday.

If only one race is held on Saturday, the postponed race would simply roll over, leaving Murray trying to squeeze the rest of the action in before the cut-off of Wednesday evening.

There are nine races on the schedule. Luna Rossa need to win three or Team UK need to win seven to qualify as the challenger to meet Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup match that starts on March 6.

The final has been on hold since last Sunday evening when Covid restrictions hit and forced a heated battle to get racing back under way.

Luna Rossa eventually won that fight with local authorities to stick with the current schedule, rather than delay a week when health restrictions could further ease and allow full crowds back into the Cup village.

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