America's Cup 2021: Prada Cup sailing schedule, race times, TV channel and team news

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Telegraph Sport
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America's Cup 2021: Prada Cup sailing schedule, race times, TV channel and team news - GETTY IMAGES
America's Cup 2021: Prada Cup sailing schedule, race times, TV channel and team news - GETTY IMAGES

What is it?

The America’s Cup is the oldest trophy in international sport, dating back to 1851. It’s so old it’s known as “Auld Mug”. It's sailing, but super-charged.

No British team has yet won it over the course of all those 170 years... a stat Ineos Team UK, led by Sir Ben Ainslie, would dearly love to correct in Auckland, New Zealand over the next few months.

When is America's Cup 2021?

The 36th America's Cup match itself takes place on March 6-15 but there is plenty of racing left before that in the Prada Cup with the final, which includes Great Britain, running from Feb 13-Feb 22. The Prada Cup semi-final will be between 0200-0400 GMT and the final 03:00-05:00 GMT, so get ready to set your alarm clock!

What channel is it on and how can I watch it?

Every race of the America's Cup series will be shown live on Sky Sports, normally Sky Sports Mix. The BBC will be also be showing the semi-final and final of the Prada Cup, as well as decisive race days during the America’s Cup match itself. The America's Cup YouTube channel also has a live stream.

Emirates Team New Zealand celebrate winning the famous America's Cup trophy in 2017 - RICARDO PINTO
Emirates Team New Zealand celebrate winning the famous America's Cup trophy in 2017 - RICARDO PINTO

What teams are taking part?

New Zealand (Emirates Team New Zealand)

Great Britain (Ineos Team UK)

United States (American Magic)

Italy (Luna Rossa Challenge)

How does it work?

Right, it's a little complicated so here's your explainer...

  • To win the America’s Cup, first you have to win the Prada Cup.

  • The three challengers - Britain, the United States and Italy - battle each other for the right to face defenders New Zealand in the 36th Cup match in March.

  • The Prada Cup format is initially round robin. Each team faces each other four times.

  • The winner of the round robin automatically qualifies for the Prada Cup final. Good news for British sailing fans.... Ineos Team UK did exactly that!

  • The 2nd and 3rd place teams, so the United States and Italy, now face off in a semi-final (first to four race wins), with the winner of that taking on Great Britain in the Prada Cup final (first to seven race wins)

  • The winner of that final then takes on defenders New Zealand in the America's Cup match (also first to seven race wins)

What is the exact schedule?

Prada Cup

  • Round robin: Jan 15-24 - (Completed with Great Britain finishing top)

  • Semi final: Jan 29-Feb 2 (United States v Italy) - between 0200 and 0400 GMT

  • Final: Feb 13-Feb 22 (Great Britain v USA/Italy) - between 0300 and 0500 GMT

36th America’s Cup

  • March 6-15 (New Zealand v winner of Prada Cup final)

Who has won in the past?

Only four nations have won the America's Cup across the 170 years since the first race. America have a virtual monopoly on the event, triumphing in 30 of the 36 editions. New Zealand have a hat-trick of wins, including the last match in Bermuda four years ago which means they are defenders this time around. While the Royal Perth Yacht Club brought the cup home for Australia in 1983 with back-to-back Swiss triumphs in 2003 and 2007.

What are Ineos Team UK/Ainslie's chances?

From being severely off the pace pre-Christmas, to turning it around in style - so much so that there were claims of 'sandbagging' - to also chipping in to help when rivals American Magic dramatically capsized: it's certainly been eventful so far for Ineos Team UK and Sir Ben Ainslie.

Topping the round robin to qualify directly for the Prada Cup final was a big boost for the British team but Ainslie will be the first to admit work is still needed if they want to eventually be lining up against defenders New Zealand in the America's Cup match. Remember, four years ago the team didn't even make it as far as that stage.

What are they saying?

Winning the round-robin phase of the Prada Cup was crucial for Ineos Team UK - now they have time to make key upgrades to Britannia, says Sir Ben Ainslie in his latest exclusive Telegraph column.

We were miles off the pace pre-Christmas and it took a serious effort to turn the boat around. But no one is standing still. We have to keep our foot to the floor and keep improving.

What are the latest odds?

  • Emirates Team New Zealand 9/10

  • Ineos Team UK 17/10

  • American Magic 10/1

  • Luna Rossa Challenge 14/1