The Prada Cup Final is not done and dusted yet, with Ineos Team UK marking their first point on the scoreboard, there may still a long way to go.
In the first race of the day, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli resumed racing where it was left last weekend, getting their nose in front at the start and kept the British in their wake to claim a vital 5th point. However in the second race Ben Ainsie got his hands on the textbook finally and executed the same game plan to take a convincing first point.
Two more wins is all will take for the Italians to take the Prada Cup, but the British team will not give up without a fight. With the teams having pretty even boat speeds the pre-start became the key moment of the whole race, start ahead and most likely will finish ahead.
For the second race of the day the breeze had increased slightly. Ineos Team UK were first into the pre-start zone and were able to control the start more readily. Two small advantages, but would the British team be able to convert these into an advantage at the start?
As both boats headed towards the start line, positions were reversed from the first start of the day, Luna Rossa was to windward this time with Ineos Team UK to leeward and ahead. Despite some aggressive manoeuvring aboard Luna Rossa, Ineos Team UK took a narrow advantage at the start, bagging the left hand end of the line and now able to push out to the extreme left hand side of the course.Britannia
The crucial moment was coming up as both headed out towards the left hand boundary. Luna Rossa tacked off early allowing the British to continue out to the extreme side of the left hand side of the course. The pair were neck and neck as they headed back towards the right.
As Luna Rossa came back on starboard Ineos Team UK were ahead on port but chose to tack onto starboard underneath them to bounce off the Italians, a classic lee bow tack.
As they approached the top gate for the first time the pair were now separated across the width of the course and it was Ineos Team UK that had gained, the distance between them around 50m.
And when they crossed,Ineos Team UK were laying the right hand mark of gate 1 and rounded 8 seconds ahead of the Luna Rossa – the first time they had been ahead since the Prada Cup Final had begun.
On the downwind slide the British were now 150m ahead. Halfway down the leg the margin had grown to 200m. By the bottom gate they rounded 21 secs ahead.
Ineos Team UK were now starting to change their tactical play by defending their position. Luna Rossa knew it and were tacking frequently in an attempt to force Ineos Team UK to do so in the hope that the British would lose some of their distance.
Meanwhile, the sea breeze was climbing slowly but steadily with an average just breaking through 10knots.
At gate 3 both boats took the left hand mark, Ineos Team UK led by 18seconds, Luna Rossa had clawed back three seconds, but their gain was short lived as Ineos Team UK opened up their lead to 430m on the water and it continued to grow. Through gate 4 the British were now 32secs ahead with one lap to go.
But this race was far from over. A shift in the breeze and a drop in its strength allowed Luna Rossa to make gains on the final upwind leg.Ineos Team UK were back under pressure.
Through the final gate Ineos Team UK took the right hand mark, Luna Rossa the left and the distance between them was now just 9secs. Now it was a drag race to the finish, the British needed to defend their position as Luna Rossa attacked.
Not only did they defend, but Ainslie and his crew managed to recover some of the lost distance to cross the line 14secs ahead, their first win of the Prada Cup Final.
“To get one back, it’s what we needed,” said Ainslie after the race. “In 12-13knots the boats are pretty even, but below it we struggle. We know it, they know it but that’s the challenge.”
“It was a great race,” said Luna Rossa co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill, ”Full credit to Ineos Team for that one, they sailed a great race.”
Races will resume tomorrow 21st of February at 4:00PM NZT weather permitting and can be watched live on Facebook, YouTube and americascup.comLuna Rossa
Francesco Bruni – Helmsman, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli
“It has been a fantastic race. Jimmy did most of the job in the pre-start working very well the time on distance. The whole team is playing well, the boat is in good shape, we have to keep doing our job and think race by race. At the start there is a very fine line between staying high and slow and staying too high and too slow, and the latter is when you fall off the foils. We did a good job and Jimmy really kept the boat on the edge.”
Sir Ben Ainslie – Skipper & Team Principal, Ineos Team UK
“We are just going to keep plugging away; it’s tough and obviously we are struggling in terms of straight lines performance, we have to push harder to make something happened. It was a pretty close start, we got the first cross but they were just sailing away with their actual speed up wind. On the start we wanted the right hand side for the pressure so knowing they were putting off the pace on a straight line performance, it was worth it taking the risk. I would do the same thing again.”