It’s the finals weekend of the Prada America’s Cup race series for 2021 in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand and we’ve been fortunate enough to be invited as guests of Woolmark and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Hospitality to view the day’s races, and to see first-hand the results of their joint efforts in creating a new direction in extreme sportswear.
The Luna Rosa Prada Pirelli team are decked out in ‘…a new breed of natural performance sailing wear’. These extreme-weather focussed garments… ‘have been developed especially for the cup. Merino wool displays amazing natural properties, such as breathability ‘…and superior thermoregulation – ideal for sailing when the conditions can change dramatically in a short period’. One example of this exploration is the official sailing team jacket, which is a three-layer garment comprised of 54% Australian Merino wool, bonded with a waterproof membrane…for extreme water resistance and full breathability.’
For the sailors themselves the fight goes on, and the uniforms they’re wearing can be as important as the race itself – luckily for all the weather on the day was perfect for sailing, and their more advanced features for inclement weather weren’t required!
If you want to whet your interest further, a selection of their endeavours is available on Prada.com.
Our day’s experience begins at 12 midday, where drinks and canapés are served in the lounge. Following a light lunch, we take a dockside view as the America’s Cup yachts head out to the races’ Course A for today’s battle.
The buzz in the viaduct is fantastic, where people line every available space by the harbour. The air is electric as Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli head out first. Boats of all sizes; media, spectators and support boats, are continuously moving out into the harbour and further into the Hauraki Gulf. A small group of us follow happily on a beautiful, streamlined 50 ft Prada boat - the sun shining brightly, and everyone is excited at what’s to come.
Thousands of boats line up around the course, all bobbing about and sharing in the anticipation as racing begins. It’s eerily quiet on the water after the first race is won by the Italians - of course most of the spectator boats are full of Kiwi’s and they’re anxious for the second race of the day, hopeful of a win. As the Kiwi boat Emirates Team NZ win the next, horns blast and voices cheer – they surround us, and you feel the joy for the fact that the racing is close, and the battle will continue on.
As we head back to base with our Captain blaring Italian opera, the sight is incredible - everywhere you look are boats of all shapes and sizes streaming back down the harbour… a flotilla of tugboats, sailing yachts, rubber dinghies… even jet skis. Italian opera feels appropriate, and quite fitting for the occasion as it will be a fight to the end this year - 3 all as it stands on our day on the harbour, with 2 more days of hard-fought racing still to come.
What an adventure with these great practitioners all, and what a day!
Words by Christy Quilliam
Photography by David K. Shields