Prada suffer low blow
nzoom Tuesday, Dec 17, 2002 
By Fiona McIlroy  [Abridged]

Prada will be ready to throttle the wind gods after the lack of breeze on Tuesday saw them eliminated from the Louis Vuitton Cup without getting to sail their last semifinal race against OneWorld. 
The Italians needed to sail two races on Tuesday, the last day allocated to the semifinal series, to tie the scoreline and force a sail-off on Wednesday. So with just one farcical race completed, which Prada won by 17 minutes and 46 seconds, taking the scoreline to 3-2, OneWorld as the leading yacht automatically go through to the repechage series and Prada are out.
The two syndicates headed out to the racecourse early on Tuesday morning to allow for two races. The temperamental wind out on the Hauraki Gulf, however, had other ideas and fluctuated from one to six knots throughout the day. Principal race officer Peter Reggio kept his officials and the crews on the racecourse right till the 4pm deadline in the hope of getting a race underway, which they did firing the warning gun right on the dot of deadline.
But it was a ridiculous and pointless race with the wind shifting almost 360 degrees throughout, and with OneWorld unlikely to agree to alter the rules and sail another race, Prada had lost the series before even crossing the startline. The first major wind shift came 30 seconds out from the start. Both syndicates were lined up on starboard at the pin end of the line when a huge 80-degree right hand wind shift paid Prada helmsman Gavin Brady, in the leeward position, a brutal blow. Neither yacht was able to cross the startline, but it was OneWorld to windward who were able to tack and cross the line first.
Prada chose to point low out to the right off the startline when they crossed 16 seconds later, and as the wind began to shift back to the right from 137 to 276 degrees the Italians overtook USA67 and rounded mark one by 31 seconds. A straight port gybe down to the bottom mark then hampered OneWorld's passing efforts and they were forced to follow Prada's wake and wait for a wind shift.
The fun continued when halfway down the run the two yachts sailed into a hole, forcing them to drop their spinnakers and drift down the course. When the breeze finally filled in enough to allow movement, it was from yet another new direction meaning the syndicates had to beat to the bottom mark. When Prada eventually rounded their lead was reduced to just eight seconds. OneWorld and Prada both hoisted light air code zero sails up the second beat but the breeze died again, forcing the crews to drop their code zeros and stutter through the water again.
The race then went from silly to plain ridiculous. Prada found a band of wind first and rocketed out to a 90-boat length lead over floundering OneWorld, rounding mark three a massive 14 minutes and 14 seconds ahead.

Prada farewelled
Prada were the darlings of the last America's Cup and have continued to be favourites among the Auckland public in this campaign. But in hindsight their demise in the semifinals is not surprising as the regatta has not gone the Italians way from the start, with numerous off and on the water hiccups. [...]

OneWorld face Oracle
The two American rivals, OneWorld and Oracle, will now face each other in the semifinal repechage, which starts on Friday. The winner will meet Alinghi in the Louis Vuitton Cup final on January 11.