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America's Cup: Bookies have Kiwis as favorites for the Cup in short series

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz 9 Mar 00:55 NZDT 9 March 2021
Luna Rossa - Prada Cup Finals - Day 4 - February, 21, - America's Cup 36 - Course A © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com / nz

The TAB has Emirates Team New Zealand a clear favorite to win the 36th America's Cup, offering Italian supporters the opportunity to clean up at the Kiwi's expense.

In the latest odds a day and a half away from the first two races, the TAB is paying $1.25 for a $1 bet on Emirates Team New Zealand retaining the trophy, and $3.50 for Luna Rossa to remove the Auld Mug from the trophy case in the Royal New Zealand yacht Squadron.

Interestingly the bookmakers see the series being won by Emirates Team New Zealand 7-0 and are only paying $3.20 for that outcome, and $41.00 for the Challenger Luna Rossa to do the same.

For Italian fans that is a very big call, given that after the America's Cup World Series INEOS Team UK was also out in similar territory and came back in very quickly when the Brits started posting wins in the Round Robins - and went on to win and go through to the Final.

Currently the TAB sees the most likely option for Luna Rossa to win in a 7-3 or 7-4 contest. That would indicate that the boats have to be a lot closer in speed than the waterfront pundits would like to believe, and that in that situation the 36th America's Cup would be a test of match racing skills.

The prices offered by the TAB do move around a lot with several punters making an investment when the Italians were paying $10 for an Italian America's Cup win. You can read the odds history by clicking here.

It is not clear whether the bookies have factored in the course restrictions imposed by authorities as a result of Auckland being in its fourth Lockdown, which has precluded the use of Stadium Course C. That means that Course Areas A and E will be used which are thought to heavily favour Luna Rossa given that the two courses are less prone to changes in wind strength and direction. Additionally Luna Rossa have raced the two races in the Semi Finals and eight races in the Finals on course areas A and E. In fact Course C off North Head has only been used for four of the ten days racing in the Regatta to date. Plus Course E was used for the seven days of practice racing that was held prior to the start of the America's Cup World Series and the start of the Round Robins to check the Race Management System data was being fed correctly to the teams.

Another point of difference between the teams which may not have been taken into account by the TAB, accounting for the good prices being offered is the Kiwis proclivity for capsizing - having done three at the last count. If Luna Rossa have capsized, they have kept it very quiet. The Kiwis twice capsized their first AC75 Te Aihe and capsized Te Rehutai during practice racing. Two of those capsizes took place on course E.

An unnamed competitor peppered the Measurement Committee over a series of rule interpretations regarding the use of running backstays around early to mid-January. Luna Rossa raced without running backstays in the America's Cup World Series in mid-December, but has sailed with the backstays (part of the supplied rigging package) since the start of the Prada Cup in mid-January.

Other changes advised before the Finals by skipper Max Sirena included new sails and a new mast. The latter is guessed to be a stronger laminate in key places to take more rig tension. Of the Challengers Luna Rossa has the most similar rig to Emirates Team New Zealand, and the trend since the ACWS has been to carry more rig tension including inducing pre-bend into the spar through several tonnes of pressure on the cunningham via a hydraulic ram.

Luna Rossa has also tided up the deck area with the addition of new cowls around the crew - which were initially more than permitted by the class rule and were opened up a little, however there has been a visible reduction in parasitic drag caused by crew bodies.

The whole sail and mast area around the foot and luff of the mainsail has been tidied up and is now very clean, in comparison to the setups used by American Magic and INEOS Team UK.

While Luna Rossa emerged with two points from the Prada Cup Round Robins - one of those came as a result of a race win after American Magic capsized. The Italian boat made a big performance jump between the Round Robin and the Finals of the Prada Cup, having a distinct speed edge on INEOS Team UK. Plus the Italians were able to make some gains while tacking, in winds below 14kts in comparison to the British entry which appeared ponderous, by comparison. Emirates Team New Zealand will also need a high mode to be able to match Luna Rossa, who cleaned out INEOS Team UK several times on Course A by shifting in this gear.

After the first day of racing in the Semi-Finals, the TAB had Luna Rossa ranked behind INEOS Team UK to win the Prada Cup and on that day was paying $2.40 for a $1 investment. The odds of Luna Rossa winning the America's Cup were longer than at present - paying $4.50 on January 29, compared to $3.50 today. A week ago 70% of the money invested was on Emirates Team New Zealand, after punters believed the waterfront scuttlebutt that the Kiwis had a significant speed edge over the Italians. However some serious moves in the investment book are likely after the first race on Wednesday.

To check the latest prices and options for the America's Cup, click here.

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