Fickle winds produced farcical scenes yesterday on day two of the America’s Cup challenger series in Auckland, as the so-called “flying” yachts spent almost as much time in the water as above it.
“I’m not sure today is a really accurate read because it’s so puffy, it’s shifty,” British sailing legend Ben Ainslie said after his Ineos Team UK maintained their perfect start to the Prada Cup series with a third straight win.
The series would determine which of the 23m yachts — which fly above the water balanced on hi-tech foil arms — would challenge defending champion Team New Zealand for the America’s Cup in March.
Ineos lost so much time falling off its foils in its duel with American Magic that it was in a race against the clock on the final leg, reaching the finish line with less than two minutes to spare before the 45-minute cutoff point.
American Magic finished with only one second remaining, which was an improvement on its performance in the day’s other race when it failed to finish against Italian entry Luna Rossa.
Ainslie said it was “intense” sailing “trying to keep the boat up on the foil because every maneuver you knew that if you come off the foil that might be the end of the race.”
American Magic helmsman Dean Barker described the racing conditions as “a lottery.”
“You question why you want to do that as part of the event, but it is what it is. Swings and roundabouts and it obviously didn’t go that well for us,” he said.
After three races each, Ineos has three wins, Luna Rossa one and American Magic nil.
The Prada Cup runs until Feb. 22, beginning with a series of round-robins.
The winner proceeds to the final, while the other two challengers face off in a seven-race semi-final.
The final begins on Feb. 13 and is a best-of-13 contest, with the first yacht to win seven races victorious.
The winner then faces Team New Zealand from March 6 to March 21 to compete for the main prize.
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