Sir Ben Ainslie has conceded Ineos Team UK will go in to the Prada Cup final with an extra emphasis on compliance, with the team having no success in removing the warning hanging over their heads.
The British syndicate was slapped with a warning and a fine early in the Prada Cup round robins with Luna Rossa successfully filed a complaint of non-compliance against a sail system they used in the first round.
With the ruling, Team UK were issues with a ‘yellow card’, and a second infringement would cost them a race.
The sail system in question was originally passed by the measurement committee ahead of racing and was deemed non-performance enhancing, so Ainslie sought to get the yellow card dismissed.
He said he had hoped the teams could have come to an agreement on that before the Prada Cup finals, but with Challenger of Record Luna Rossa punching their ticket against American Magic, Ainslie said that essentially did away with any hope of a change.
“The way things have played out over the last couple of weeks, you know, head-to-head against Luna Rossa, and of course they have to agree to any changes. I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Ainslie said.
“That’s the game. We’ll go into the Prada Cup final with our eyes wide open as to some of the tactics.”
Because of this, Ainslie said there would be an added focus on compliance leading into racing, and the addition of more available measurers following American Magic’s departure a welcome bonus at this pivotal point in the campaign.
“In terms of getting that scrutineering and that attention to detail, hopefully that will be that much more thorough. We will work very, very hard with them to make sure that the boat is absolutely compliant, as it should be,” Ainslie said.
Over the last week, Team UK have taken the opportunity to make improvements to their vessel while Luna Rossa and American Magic were still in race mode, in a period Ainslie said was much needed for their campaign.
Of the three teams remaining in the hunt for the America’s Cup, Team UK are the only one who was not involved in the development of the AC75 class and therefore feel like they have ground to make up.
So, while Luna Rossa helmsmen Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni indicated the series against American Magic was needed, Ainslie said his team has benefitted greatly from the extra week of development.
“We were really pushing hard to get that direct spot. Not only because no one really knew what state American Magic were going to come back in – obviously before they capsized they were dangerously quick – but also giving us the time to make more changes to the boat.
“We certainly feel that compared with Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa, we’ve been behind in the amount of time we’ve had in this campaign. Those two teams put together the class rule so are some six to eight months ahead of us in that respect, so we’ve always been playing catch up. Any time we can buy (time) back like that, it’s been really important to us.”
Ineos Team UK and Luna Rossa will meet in a best-of-13 series to determine the winner of the Prada Cup and official challenger for the America’s Cup. The Prada Cup final series begins on February 13.
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