America’s Cup 2021: Luna Rossa’s Jimmy Spithill questions umpire’s call in Prada Cup loss to Ineos Team UK

When Luna Rossa met Ineos Team UK in the Prada Cup on Saturday, it was a do or die situation.

A win for the Italian syndicate kept their hopes of winning the round robin stages alive, while a loss meant Sir Ben Ainslie’s crew took the top spot with a day to spare.

In the end, it came down to the final cross of the race and a refereeing decision Luna Rossa co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill believes was wrong.

Luna Rossa protested the proximity at which their counterparts crossed in front of them, as the race rules state the vessels have a safety zone around them to avoid collisions, and a penalty is awarded if that safe zone is breached.

As the protest button was pushed, it was clear Luna Rossa felt it warranted a penalty, and speaking on the broadcast after the race, Spithill questioned the decision.

“For us, we definitely had a piece. We’re doing about 45 knots, both of us, and we had to avoid them, so I was pretty surprised to see they thought that was not close enough,” he said.

Former America’s Cup sailor Mark Orams had a similar view, suggesting that although it looked like Luna Rossa were trying to milk the penalty, it appeared that they had done enough to do so.

“That race came down to an umpiring call unfortunately, and I believe the wrong call was made,” Orams said.

“That said, Spithill did try to milk it, turning down at the last second making the cross look much closer than perhaps it was … It seemed to me that safety zone was breached.

“The umpires must have considered that Ineos was clear ahead, and that Luna Rossa altered their course to engineer the breach. Therefore no penalty against Ainslie.”

While the race came down to the final leg, Luna Rossa had their chances to get on top of the British outfit early in the race but didn’t capitalise on them.

Two bad tacks in the opening two legs saw their good start go largely to waste, and while there were nine lead changes in the race, Luna Rossa will be feeling as though they missed an opportunity to get one back over the Brits.

Luna Rossa co-helmsman Francesco Bruni said it was just a matter of a few bad manoeuvres going against them that decided the race.

“It’s not so easy in these boats. We made a couple of mistakes,” Bruni said.

“I think we had good moments, they had good moments and it all came down to that last cross. It was a very close race.

“I think you have to just digest that decision. I think it was very close; the front of the boat always feels a lot closer than it probably is. We’ll review the video…it’s (the referee’s) decision in the end. There’s nothing you can do. I think it was close, but it was probably green only by a couple of metres; that’s racing.”

Heading into the Cup racing?

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