America's Cup: Christmas Race called off due to a lack of wind

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sun, 20 Dec 2020, 4:01PM
Team New Zealand Te Rehutai and INEOS Team UK Britannia in race one of the Christmas Race. (Photo / Brett Phibbs)
Team New Zealand Te Rehutai and INEOS Team UK Britannia in race one of the Christmas Race. (Photo / Brett Phibbs)

America's Cup: Christmas Race called off due to a lack of wind

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sun, 20 Dec 2020, 4:01PM

The Prada Christmas Race regatta ended with a whimper, as a lack of wind meant no races could be completed.

Only the first semifinal between Team New Zealand and Ineos Team UK was started, but that race exceeded the 45 minute time limit and was abandoned.

It was close – as Te Rehutai were within a few hundred metres of crossing the finish line – but it had been a frustrating final leg as the breeze dropped to three or four knots.

It brought back memories of that infamous race in San Francisco in 2013, when Team New Zealand were denied a chance to win the America's Cup as they agonisingly ran out of time, though there was nothing at stake on Sunday.

All four teams then waited out on the water – with the crews resting and relaxing on the boats – before racing was finally abandoned at 5:45pm.

It had been a difficult day. The forecast was always touch and go, and organisers switched to the northernmost course A, off the east coast bays, in search of wind, but eventually to no avail. It was seven knots for the start of the first race, before gradually fading away.

Wind issues are nothing new in Auckland.

In the 2003 America's Cup match there was a nine-day period between the third and fourth races with no racing, due to either not enough or too much breeze.

But Sunday's events might provoke some debate, as nobody wants a repeat of the weird scenes in the race between Team New Zealand and Ineos Team UK.

The contest turned into a farce in the final 15 minutes, as both boats were almost becalmed, unable to get up on their foils.

It was a novelty on Sunday, turning into a displacement race as neither yacht could take flight, and both crews saw the funny side.

But it is not something anybody would want to see again, especially the organisers pitching to a new worldwide audience.

The crews were powerless to do much, as they limped down the course.

Compared to past Cup regattas, the boats were still travelling at a reasonable clip, but our perceptions have changed.

Everyone is still learning about this class and it is dangerous to draw conclusions from just one race.

But the wind limits – and the time limits for the racing – will surely be examined.

Any changes will require an alteration to the race conditions, which need to be agreed by all three challengers and the defender.

The wind limits for the upcoming Prada Cup round robin and semifinal stage are from 6.5 and 21 knots. For the Prada Cup final the upper limit extends to 23 knots.

The time limit for an individual race is 45 minutes while the first leg has to be completed by 12 minutes.