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Sailing enthusiasts on Arran have been keeping a keen eye on the action taking place in Auckland, New Zealand as the Prada Cup yacht race got underway last week.
The interest is not only that one of the competing teams is British, Ineos Team UK, but that one of the crew is Neil Hunter from Lamlash.
Neil Hunter spends what little downtime he has on Arran and is a familiar face to most. His racing career began at the age of 13, firstly in the RS Fevas, and then progressing into the International 420 youth class and Scottish RYA’s 420 Squad and then onto the 29er class sailing with his younger brother, Rory.
In early 2016, Neil was invited to sail with the team at the first Extreme Sailing Series (ESS) event in Oman and has acted as skipper for the ESS this season.
The first stage of the Prada Cup started on Friday January 15 and completes on Sunday January 24, and the winner will challenge the defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, in the America’s Cup.
The first stage consists of four round robins of three races each. The challenger with the highest score at the end of the round robins will automatically access the Prada Cup final; the remaining two teams will race again in a seven-race semi-final and the winner will be the first team that scores four points.
The 13-race final between the two leading teams, will start on Saturday February 13 and the first team to score seven points will win the Prada Cup to face the defender, Emirates Team New Zealand.
The America’s Cup, which dates back 170 years, will take place from Saturday March 6 to the Monday March 15 and is one of the most prestigious sailing events in the sport.
Both the America’s Cup and the Prada Cup are available on free-to-air and pay networks all around the world and live streaming and highlights are available on the official event website at www.americascup.com
At the time of going to press Ineos Team UK were sitting in first place with four wins ahead of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team with two points and New York Yacht Club American Magic who have four losses and no wins.