Americas Cup

Covid-19 shuts down America’s Cup

Five community COVID-19 cases have been detected in Auckland, which we now know are the highly infectious UK-variant 1.1.7.

Alert level 2 will commence from 00:00 18 February 2021 a down grade from level 3, and the remainder of New Zealand will move to level 1 from level 2. Restrictions will remain in place until 23:59 Monday 22 February 2021.

America’s Cup and Prada Cup Final Timing

The America’s Cup Event (ACE) stated: “If the alert level remains at 3 or 2, which obviously entails restrictions in gatherings and difficulties with events, racing and event activations would need to be rescheduled to recommence the Prada Cup Final on Friday 26 February”.

The Challenger of Record (CoR) stated: “COR 36 has been now informed by America’s Cup Events (ACE) that they are discussing with the Authorities different options, including the postponement of the racing to the 26th of February; this is in total breach of the regulations, which set the 24th of February as the end of the PRADA Cup, without any possible extension”.

We will no doubt see an arbitration this afternoon between the CoR and the ACE, then we will know when racing will resume.

**Additional Spanner to the bucket of Spanners**

Sail-World’s Gladwell who knows the ins and outs: If racing is stopped beyond Wednesday, the INEOS Team UK would appear to have a case to take to the Arbitration Panel to have the series declared to be affected by a Force Majeure, and the Arbitration panel would make a ruling which is binding on all parties. The Arbitration Panel has twice ruled on Force Majeure triggered by COVID-19 and the outcome was the cancellation of the two America’s Cup World Series regattas scheduled for April and June 2020.

Full info via each of the statements below, from the ACE, CoR and INEOS Team UK.

We will continue to keep you updated as the issue develops.

1630 NZ local – 17 February 2021

Both of today’s community cases are linked to the previous Auckland February cases. With all five cases linked, this is reassuring and has resulted in lowering restrictions.

Alert level 2 will commence from 00:00 18 February 2021, remainder of New Zealand will move to level 1. Restrictions will remain in place until 23:59 Monday 22 February 2021.

Both cases are students at Papatoetoe High School. Case D is a classmate, and had already been identified as a close contact, of Case A. Case E is Case D’s sibling.

Contact tracing has identified 128 close contacts associated with Cases A, B and C. Of these, 76 have tested negative; there is one positive (Case D) and 49 results are pending.

Case investigation and contact tracing for Cases D and E is currently underway.

As at 1130 this morning, a total of 31 close contacts and 1523 casual plus contacts have been identified at Papatoetoe High School.

Of those, 29 close contacts have returned negative results, one positive result (Case D), and one is outstanding.

Of the casual plus contacts, 1159 have returned negative results, there is one positive (Case E), and 363 are outstanding. It’s important to note that Case E is a close contact of Case D, but for the purpose of test reporting is classified as casual plus.  

1430 NZ local – 17 February 2021

INEOS TEAM UK STATEMENT

Following the statement from the America’s Cup Event Ltd (ACE) (see below).

INEOS TEAM UK respect the decision communicated by ACE to delay the PRADA Cup racing due to the current COVID-19 alert level in Auckland.

The result of the PRADA Cup final should be won and decided on the water in the agreed format of first to win 7 races.

INEOS TEAM UK fully respect the government’s decision to curtail racing until it is safe to do so and would support a delay in the competition if that is required.

The solution put forward by ACE is sensible in ensuring both the safety of all in New Zealand, and the integrity of the sporting competition.

INEOS TEAM UK will continue with our race preparations and be ready to race when it is safe to do so.

1400 NZ local – 17 February 2021

CHALLENGER OF RECORD AMERICA’S CUP 36 ORGANIZER OF THE PRADA CUP CALLS FOR RESUMING RACING AS SOON AS POSSIBLE 

Challenger of Record America’s Cup 36 (COR 36) – the organizer of the PRADA Cup – urged America’s Cup Events (ACE) to request an exemption to carry on the Final of the PRADA Cup in compliance with the Racing Calendar and in order to meet the legitimate expectations of the competitors involved, of the  international public and of the international television networks who have already programmed their broadcastings. 

Unfortunately this did not happen, notwithstanding a protocol and a procedure which were put in place  since months in the event such circumstance would occur. COR 36 has been now informed by  America’s Cup Events (ACE) that they are discussing with the Authorities different options, including the postponement of the racing to the 26th of February; this is in total breach of the regulations, which set  the 24th of February as the end of the PRADA Cup, without any possible extension. 

COR 36 is indeed endeavoring to ensure that the PRADA Cup Final resumes as early as the 19th of  February whilst respecting public health and the protocols imposed by the New Zealand government,  and has offered its full support to ACE and to the local authorities to immediately implement the Level 3  Alert management plan provided for by the AC36 Event COVID-19 Management On Land and On Water Plans. These plans provide that, in a level 3 COVID-19 alert, the AC36 Village shall be closed and the regattas shall resume “behind closed doors”, without any public, as it already happens for many  international sporting events (Formula 1, Australian Open etc.). 

This on water management plan has already been tested and can therefore be immediately activated  with the approval of the Authorities. Since teams are authorised to sail and practice under COVID-19 level 3 alert, it is hard to understand why racing “behind closed doors” could not be allowed applying the same protocols.

In this context, and in compliance with the regulations, there is no reason to further delay the carrying on  of the regattas as scheduled, giving both teams the opportunity to complete the number of races  required by the series within the terms and deadlines imposed by the racing calendar. It should be reminded that otherwise Rule A2.3(b) of Appendix A to the World Sailing Racing Rules of Sailing  America’s Cup edition Version 3.03 for the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA – which provide  that “….the winner is the team with the highest score at the date of the final scheduled date” – would apply. 

COR 36 hopes not to apply this provision and that an exemption to allow racing at the scheduled dates will be granted. 

1230 NZ local – 17 February 2021

AMERICA’S CUP EVENT (ACE) POSITION ON CONTINUATION OF RACING

In these uncertain times, as the permitted Event Organiser responsible for the delivery of the 36th America’s Cup presented by PRADA in Auckland under the Host Venue Agreement with NZ Government and Auckland Council, America’s Cup Event Limited remains committed to maintaining as many aspects as possible of the Event as originally planned.

This includes the ambition to maximise the possibility of safe public engagement at the event for Aucklanders and Kiwis from around the country, as well as the commercial benefits to local businesses, event sponsors and partners which includes the New Zealand Government and Auckland City. We are also mindful of the global broadcasting rights holders that are taking the stunning images of our country with thousands of people enjoying the event and broadcasting them into living rooms and devices around the world.

America’s Cup Event Chair Tina Symmans said, “As event organisers, we have spent a considerable amount of time since Sunday evening looking at all possible scenarios. Like the majority of events around the country this weekend, the ramifications of running the remainder of the event need to be considered in an environment which is highly uncertain due to the latest COVID-19 concerns.”

ACE has consulted with the America’s Cup Minister Stuart Nash and senior Council officials and one consideration has been to postpone the current schedule of racing and events in the best interests of the public and all stakeholders given the current COVID-19 environment.

The position of ACE is based on one of two options based on the Government’s review of alert levels at 4:30 this afternoon:
>>If the alert levels drop to level 1 in time, then racing will resume this weekend.
>>If the alert level remains at 3 or 2, which obviously entails restrictions in gatherings and difficulties with events, racing and event activations would need to be rescheduled to recommence the Prada Cup Final on Friday 26 February.

To respect the original timeframe scheduled between the Prada Cup Final and the America’s Cup Match, Race 1 of the Match would subsequently begin a week later on Saturday 13 March with the intention of racing still being completed by 21 March.

This morning the Challenger of Record (COR36) has made their position very clear in stating their desire to race from tomorrow despite COVID Alert level 3, to complete the PRADA Cup final by the 24th February in accordance with the existing PRADA Cup conditions.

They have also stated that if the racing program cannot be completed by Wednesday (24th) they intend to declare the leading point scorer the winner of the PRADA Cup and Challenger for the America’s Cup Match.

Under the current points situation, that would be Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team.

“There is no guarantee as to what COVID-19 Alert Level Auckland or New Zealand will be operating under. If the event is faced with operating under COVID-19 Level 2 or 3, plans are in place to ensure the continued delivery and conclusion of the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada within the scheduled dates.” Explained Symmans.

“Clearly this would have potential implications for public participation which we are trying to avoid, however the intention of the potential rescheduling will give the best possible opportunity to see the event run with maximum engagement and benefits for public and stakeholders.”

0950 NZ local – 17 February 2021

There are two new Covid-19 cases in the community, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

The new cases come just hours before the Prime Minister is meeting with Cabinet to decide on the next move for alert levels.

The new cases are students – a brother and sister who attend Papatoetoe High School.

The sister is a classmate and close contact of the original case who tested positive last week.

We will be updated at 1630 NZT 17 February 2021 on what the lock down requirements will involve past the original time set of this evening.

This will ultimately determine what we will see for the racing schedule for the continuation of the Prada Cup (see above announcement).

1400 NZ local – 16 February 2021

The three positive cases remain in quarantine the Auckland facility. Their household contact is in isolation at home under strict public health protocols and supervision.

There have been no further positive cases in addition to the original three.

Intensive investigation around the potential source of transmission for all three cases continues.

Contact tracing has now identified 109 close contacts outside the household.

Of these, 33 have returned a negative test and 74 results are pending.

The increase in the number of close contacts is because of a very precautionary approach to people classified as close contacts at one of the locations of interest. All contacts from this location have been identified and there is no public health risk.

More than 2,000 contacts have now been identified as casual plus and loaded into the national close contact tracing system. These include people who attended workplaces of Case B and C, Papatoetoe High School and other locations of interest.

Tomorrow we should have the results from the tests on Monday, which will draw a better picture of the situation. If the situation from yesterday and today of zero cases continues into tomorrow, we will more than likely be looking at racing Thursday (reserve day), Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday if required.

We will continue to keep you updated.

1700 NZ local – 15 February 2021

In light of the Government’s COVID19 Level 3 lockdown overnight, America’s Cup Event Ltd and the competing teams are taking all of the necessary steps to continue to work in line with their COVID19 Level 3 working protocols as reviewed with WorkSafe NZ and the Ministry of Health.

Within the respective plans and protocols, there is a clear distinction between the individual team’s operations and official Prada Cup and America’s Cup racing itself.

For each of the teams; sailing, testing and training on the water is part of the core business of all teams.

As practiced under the previous Level 3 restrictions in 2020, the team’s operations must be undertaken like any commercial business operating on the water, as well as on land, in line with their individual protocols developed with WorkSafe NZ and the Ministry of Health working safely under COVID19 Level 3 restrictions.

From an event perspective; there are a number of plans for different scenarios. With regard to the current situation and rescheduling of on water racing and on shore event organisation, the event organisers are updating plans with respect to maintaining a fluid racing calendar in consultation with the Government and relevant authorities.

1600 NZ local – 15 February 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed to leave “no stone unturned” in the hunt for the source of the Valentine’s Day Covid-19 outbreak.

Ardern says officials are “making good progress” in the investigation but work is still under way and the current alert levels will remain in place.

Ardern and director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield gave an update on the three Valentine’s Day cases, all of which are within one family with no links to the New Zealand Quarantine System at this stage.

Six of the forty-two close contacts to the three positive cases in the south-Auckland cluster have tested negative to the virus. Hopefully this bodes well for a return to sailing on Thursday, which was originally a reserve day for racing.

Jacinda Arden towards the end of the live session stated “I can hand on heart say that we have not discussed an extension to the lock down [past Wednesday 23:59 NZT] as we rely on up to the minute advice”.

“Covid-19 can feel like a roller-coaster that you haven’t actually bought a ticket for,” said Bloomfield.

We will hear more in the 1600 NZT press conference tomorrow, 16 February.

Press conference – 1600 NZT – 15 February 2021

1900 NZ local – 14 February 2021

Three community COVID-19 cases have been detected in south Auckland, which we now know are the highly infectious UK-variant 1.1.7.

As a result, Auckland is going into alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand into alert level 2 from 23:59 14 February 2021. This is currently set to last for three days, to 23:59 Wednesday 17 February 2021.

As a result of the Government announcement of a Level 3 lockdown in Auckland, initially for 72 hours, the next scheduled race day on Wednesday has been postponed and the event village will not be open to the public during this time.

America’s Cup Event Ltd will be working with the Authorities and relevant agencies over the next few days to work through the ongoing ramifications.

Statement from the America’s Cup Event Ltd – 1900 NZT 14 February 2021

When Auckland was in a level 3 lock down last year, the teams were allowed to train, as long as they followed health and safety guidelines, and did as much as they could from home.

In August, Team NZ said its talks with government department MBIE in April outlined that it was a commercial business and that its on-water operations were a vital activity of the business.

The weather will potentially be too windy for sailing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but it remains to be seen if the teams are allowed to work in the bases, or go sailing with a focus on essential workers only. Thursday is a reserve day, but if NZ is out of lock down, it will likely be used for racing.

You can read more about level three lock down in New Zealand here.

We are awaiting further advice as to whether America’s Cup training and work will continue over lock down, and when racing will resume. We will keep you updated!

What you need to know

  • It was confirmed on Sunday afternoon there are three COVID-19 cases in the community – all in south Auckland from the same family
  • The source of the cases remain under investigation
  • Auckland is going into alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand into alert level 2 as of 11:59pm on Sunday. This is currently set to last for three days
  • Papatoetoe High School, where one of the cases attended, will be closed on Monday and Tuesday
  • Two of the cases visited Pak’nSave Manukau on Friday and anyone who was in the store between 3:35pm and 5pm is advised to self-isolate, be alert for symptoms, get tested for COVID-19 and stay at home until a result has returned
  • New Zealand remains at COVID-19 alert level 1
  • A list of locations visited by the three cases can be viewed here.
Original announcement – 1900 NZT – 14 February 2021