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In a thrilling day of sailing in the Red Sea, Emirates Team New Zealand was crowned champion in the second preliminary race of the America’s Cup held in Jeddah.

After a vibrant final, the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli came second due to a mistake that cost them the chance to fight for the victory against Emirates Team New Zealand. Although the New Zealand team consolidated, and did not make any mistakes during the event, the Italians left good feelings during the competition without losing sight of the victory, despite the difficulties. Moreover, the event in Yeda has enamored the protagonists, highlighting the good conditions of the venue and the reception received for the America’s Cup.

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A duel of titans

The competition was contested by the AC40, and offered a great show in the first two races of the day, determining which team would join Emirates Team New Zealand in the Grand Final. Despite the fact that the New Zealand team had already secured their place, they did not slow the pace in the two legs. In this way, they gained data on the boats and the pace in challenging conditions. In addition, the team’s great performance was transformed into a third place in the seventh race, and the fifth win in the eighth, all before the Grand Final.


Emirates Team New Zealand collecting their trophy. Photo: Ricardo Pinto

The Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, led by Ruggero Tita and Marco Gradoni, proved to be a team to be reckoned with. Despite the fact that from the first day they recognized that they still needed more hours on the boat, in the first race they came out on top, securing their passage to the final. On this occasion, the grand final was not good for them, as they had problems even before starting. Because of the high temperatures in Jeddah, the Italian boat had problems with the electronics, and entered the last race late. This gave a big advantage to Emirates Team New Zealand, but even so, the Italians did not drop their arms and pushed the kiwis until the last moment.


Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli tasks en Yeda. Photo: Ian Roman

However, the last windward mark again changed the course of the event. An error in the boat’s elevation caused Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli to dip its bow. Thus, they completely lost their chance to fight against the New Zealand team. The Italian team’s helmsman, Ruggero Tita, reflected on the regatta and the good feelings they had gained despite the mistakes.

Jeddah has been a super good experience and we are happy with the result. But when you are there, so close, and you see the possibility of winning, yes, there is some regret, but we did more than we expected.


Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli and Emirates Team New Zealand  competed like two titans until the end. Photo: Ricardo Pinto

Jeddah, a luxurious setting

The closing ceremony marked the end of an impressive competition, but Jeddah did not only excel on the water. The Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina proved to be a classy host, conveying good vibes forshowcasing sailing competition on Saudi soil once again. At the end of the event, the teams showed their enthusiasm by experiencing first-hand the hospitality of the place. For example, Tom Slingsby, skipper of NYYC American Magic commented that “the sailing has been amazing and the venue fantastic.” Furthermore, he sees them doing many high-level events in the future.


The teams competing for the trophy in Jeddah. Photo: Ricardo Pinto

Similarly, the Emirates Team New Zealand helmsman, Blair Tuke, has enjoyed the good conditions in the city of Jeddah, and being able to fight in such tight races. He has also felt that being there “has been great publicity for our sport”, something that the Saudi Sailing Federation aims to do. To provide inspiration for the younger generation to compete at the elite level of the oldest sport. In this way, Jeddah consolidates itself as a world-class venue, leaving a mark of good memories in the history of the America’s Cup.

Noelia Fernández

Journalist passionate about culture, literature, arts and travel. I am interested in being able to listen to others and immerse myself in their stories, seeking the essence of each experience and giving voice to many that are not heard. I have been writing for Horse since June 2021.