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Will the Virus Stop Us From Sailing?
As part of the government of Italy’s attempts to curb the spread of Covid-19 (the coronavirus), they have ordered all sporting events in the next month to take place without any fans to cheer the athletes on. Sailing enthusiasts across the globe are wondering what this means for this year’s America’s Cup World Series. The first event of the series is due to take place in Cagliari, Italy on April 23 – 26.
What Our Champions Are Saying
According to a news report in the New Zealand Herald, Dean Barker from the American Magic has called the upcoming event ‘risky’ and further stated that he is hopeful that a decision will soon be made about whether the event will continue so that his team can continue with preparations. In an interview with Radio Sport Breakfast, Barker said that the most recent information received is that the race would go ahead as planned and that this is the information they are working with currently. He also stated that it would appear that there is risk attached to continuing with the event, in light of everything in the media about Italy at the moment, but that the organisers are in contact with the Italian government with the goal of understanding what is needed from challengers.
What if the Cagliari Event is Cancelled?
Since hearing about football and other sports matches going ahead without anybody in the stadiums, as well as travel bans to parts of Italy, the question of whether the event will go ahead at all begs to be asked. When preparing for major races like The America’s Cup, World Series events are crucial. This is where challengers get a feel for their vessels and the racing atmosphere as they gain some kind of basic understanding of where they stand and what areas they need to focus on improving.
Even though the World Series does not ultimately affect the challengers’ chances of competing in The America’s Cup, the time spent in the water in a racing environment is invaluable in teaching them how their own and other vessels respond in competitive scenarios. If the Cagliari even does not take place, the crews will only get to race in June at the next World Series event which is due to take place in Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
And if a Global Viral Epidemic is not Enough…
Besides the obvious challenges from the outbreak in Italy, several late entries were received from countries including the United States, the Netherlands and Malta and it is still not clear whether most of these challengers will be taking part. It hasn’t been confirmed whether they paid their late entry fees and no information about their vessels or teams have been received. This level of uncertainty could have a dire impact on the performance of teams. It is hoped that the current race fixtures will continue as planned.
Current planned fixtures:
- First World Series: 23 – 26 April 2020 in Cagliari, Italy
- Second World Series: 4 – 7 June 2020 in Portsmouth, United Kingdom
- Third World Series: 17 – 20 December 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand
- The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series: January to February 2021
- The America’s Cup Match: March 2021