Sailing: America's Cup teams call off Sardinia regatta in April

LONDON (Reuters) - An America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) event due to be raced in Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia has been called off due to the coronavirus outbreak, two teams said on Friday.

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The planned ACWS races between Emirates Team New Zealand and the three challengers Luna Rossa, INEOS Team UK and American Magic were going to be the first test for revolutionary new “foiling” yachts which “fly” over the water on a hydrofoil.

“It is quite obvious that the ACWS Cagliari event cannot go ahead,” Emirates Team New Zealand, which is due to defend the “Auld Mug” in Auckland in March 2021, said in a statement.

The cancellation is the latest of a major sporting event as a result of the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic, which has led to a lockdown in Italy where there have been more than 1,000 deaths as a result of the outbreak.

“The teams are collectively entering discussions on a solution to create an equitable outcome for everyone around the loss and/or availability of sailing time due to the change of circumstance,” the defending team said on their website.

Emirates Team New Zealand, which will face a single challenger for the oldest trophy in international sport, said that a formal announcement would be made in due course.

Luna Rossa, the so-called Challenger of Record (COR) for the 36th edition of the America’s Cup, issued a statement saying that it had “declared the impossibility of organizing the ACWS Sardinia - Cagliari (23-26 April) event at the scheduled date.”

The Sardinia-based team, which is backed by fashion house Prada and tyremaker Pirelli, said in a statement that it had submitted a proposal to the defender to postpone the event to a later date, rather than cancel it, but this had been refused without discussion.

“COR 36 will submit to the Arbitration Panel the postponement of the ACWS Sardinia ... to a new date,” it added.

If the Sardinian ACWS event does not go ahead, the next scheduled meeting between the team’s new multi-million dollar AC75s, which will give a first indication of who has come up with the fastest design, is in Portsmouth, England in June.

Reporting by Alexander Smith; Editing by Toby Davis