Emirates Team New Zealand, the defender of the 36th America’s Cup, has emerged victorious in the 2021 final against Italian challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.
The win marks the fourth time that the New Zealand team, headed by helmsman Peter Burling, has been awarded the Auld Mug trophy. The team was also crowned the winner in 1995, 2000 and 2017.
To make it to the final as the America’s Cup challenger, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli had previously triumphed over the British contender INEOS Team UK and US team American Magic in earlier rounds of racing.
In the America’s Cup final, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were continuously tied in a heated deadlock over the first six races.
Emirates Team New Zealand changed the scoreboard by winning both races held on March 15 and securing another win on March 16.
The final race, which took place in the waters of Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf off the coast of Auckland, began in winds of 10 knots after a 30 minute delay, and saw Emirates Team New Zealand enter the racecourse to starboard and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli enter to port.
Quickly moving out to the right-hand side of the racecourse, Emirates Team New Zealand gained the lead ahead of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in the first few moments of the race.
The racing was close, with the New Zealand team sailing at 41 knots to the Italians’ 39 knots, but by gate four a distance had opened up between the two teams that the Italians could no longer close.
After 10 races, the AC75 yacht of Emirates Team New Zealand, Te Rehutai, beat the Italian AC75 Luna Rossa by 46 seconds.
Commenting on the win, Peter Burling thanked the supporters of the New Zealand team: “We have been getting messages from the Prime Minister to high school kids. It just means the world to us as a team.
"We have been learning all week, and today we really showed what this boat can do, and so to win on home waters is something our entire team is incredibly proud of.”
Though challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli was defeated, helmsman Francesco Bruni confirmed that the Italian team would return to the next edition of the America's Cup. “It is not finished – and with all this experience in the team we will try again," he said.
Taking place every four years, the America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport and considered the pinnacle of yacht racing.
Though travel restrictions related to the pandemic meant international visitors were curtailed, the 2021 event still saw over 1,300 spectator boats out on the water watching the action.
According to America’s Cup tradition, the win means that Emirates Team New Zealand will write the racing rules for the 37th edition of the America’s Cup.