America's Cup 2021: Wednesday racing postponed under Auckland COVID-19 lockdown

America's Cup racing has been postponed under Auckland's latest COVID-19 Level 3 alert.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a three-day lockdown, severely limiting activities across the city and imposing a Level restrictions throughout the rest of the country, after a fresh outbreak of the coronavirus in South Auckland.  

"As a result of the Government announcement of a Level 3 lockdown in Auckland, initially for 72 hours, the next scheduled race day on Wednesday has been postponed and the event village will not be open to the public during this time," says event organisers.

"America’s Cup Event Ltd will be working with the authorities and relevant agencies over the next few days to work through the ongoing ramifications."

Cup challengers heard the news as they returned from Sunday's racing off Maraetai, catching the Italian and British teams by surprise. 

"It's bad news and a timely reminder of what the world's going through, isn't it?" says INEO Team UK boss Sir Ben Ainslie. "We're very fortunate to be out here and doing a yacht race, which we all love.

"It's a difficult situation. To be perfectly honesty, I'm not entirely sure what the restrictions are... but obviously we'll do whatever the authorities advise us to do.

"Of course, it's more important that people are safe and healthy, so we'll have to wait and see what happens.

"We'd love to race on Wednesday, sounds like some good breeze and hopefully we can. We'll see how it plays out."

Ainslie's wish was quickly dashed, gifting him at least another day - maybe more - to regroup from his 4-0 deficit against Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in the best-of-13 series.

But his sentiments are echoed by Luna Rossa helmsman Francesco Bruni.

"I would love to sail tomorrow, but that's not part of the plan," he says. "We have to keep using our days like we have in the past weeks.

"Our team have done a fantastic job on improving the boat, improving the sailing team and the communication on board. It has always been about improving, but I also think the grinders need a bit of a rest." 

In fact, teams would probably need 'essential worker' status to continue working on their boats during their unforeseen downtime.

Join us for live updates of the America's Cup challenger final between Team UK and Luna Rossa