When the score was 4-0, the British skipper Ben Ainslie said before the Saturday races: "Our starts weren't good enough. We have to do better. We have to turn the tide." The project was at least partially successful. With the first victory point after another defeat against the Italian LunRossPradPirelli Team, the Ineos Team UK was able to at least end its black series. In the challenger final for the PradCup it is now 5: 1 for the Italians. Cup hunter Patrizio Bertelli's team is still missing two points on his sixth attempt to make it into the 36th America's Cup match. The British would have to win six times if they still want to defeat the Italians and claim the Kiwis.
A picture so far unfamiliar in this final: "Britannia" before "LunRossa"
What happened on the water on Saturday: the Prada Cup final races five and six in the summary
"Ice flows through Ben's veins when it matters," said two-time Olympic champion and TV commentator Shirley Robertson to her long-time teammate on the British Olympic team. A bit of it flashed at the start of race five, even if the Italians did better. Both boats started several seconds early. The associated penalty was neutralized. Because the British got too close to the course limit on this first section of the course, they received the next penalty. To rectify that, they had to fall 50 meters behind the Italians - which on the right-hand side of the course, initially with sometimes more pressure, turned out to be not so easy. The Italians promptly protested again when they first met the British again. The accusation: The British would have taken advantage of their rule violation and the resulting position. The jury agreed, and Ainslie's men received another penalty. With 15 seconds behind the Italians, they finally completed this first section of the course in the penalty hail. As a result, the Italians dictated the match and crossed the finish line at the end of race five in Winden by eight to ten knots with a one-minute and 20-second advantage.
A dream from a European point of view: Just a small part of the huge fleet of spectators on this picture-perfect summer day in the Cup area off Auckland
The early start of both boats can be clearly seen in this picture from the live broadcast of the fifth race
The statistics for race five in the Prada Cup final
Francesco Bruni said afterwards, with a score of 5-0: "That was a fantastic race. Obviously Jimmy did most of the job with good timing at the start. It was like something out of the textbook." And a shot at Ainslie's bow. His answer between races five and six: "It's tough. A decision like the one at the start is in the hands of the referees. We really wanted the right side. That was worth the risk. I would probably do it again." But that wasn't necessary at the start of race six, which started with a clean parallel start of both boats with slight advantages for the British. When the course of the two boats crossed on the way to the first turning mark, the Azzurri were behind for the first time in this Prada Cup final. "Good work," said Ben Ainslie to his crew on board and the fans could hear it through the on-board microphones. "Britannia" was traveling with the largest J1 foresail, the Italians with a slightly smaller version.
A good symbol for an exciting day on the water
Less competitive than in the previous race: the start of race six
The crews and especially the grinders had a brutal job to do in this second race of the day with 124 turns by the British and 138 by the Italians. Working for the Italians on "LunRossa": Francesco Bruni, Jimmy Spithill, Pietro Sibello, Emanuele Liuzzi, Enrico Voltolini, Gilberto Nobile, Matteo Celon, Nicholas Brezzi, Pierluigi de Felice, Romano Battisti, Umberto Molineris. Under the British Union Jack on board "Britannia": Sir Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott, Leigh McMillan, Ben Cornish, Bleddyn Môn, Chris Brittle, Graeme Spence, Joey Newton, Luke Parkinson, Neil Hunter, Nick Hutton. Both crews were more equal in race six and fought an almost classic match race duel.
This is what relief looks like: In race six, the British were able to prevail for the first time in this final of the PradCup
It got exciting again on the last section of the course. Previously, the Italians had made nine seconds at the last turning point from 42 seconds behind and built up the corresponding pressure. But the British held out, showed strong nerves under high mental pressure and brought their lead with 14 seconds to the finish. With their first victory point in this Prada Cup final, the 11-person British crew ended their black series and made their fans dream of the possible turnaround.
Compared to the statistics for race five, the data for race six shows how exciting and action-packed it was in this encounter. Just looking at the number of turns reveals not only the match race intensity of the duel, but also that the British, with 124: 138, needed significantly less of the time-consuming maneuvers than the Italians
Strong in the starts, thoughtful in the press conference: "LunRossas" co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill
With deficits in winds below 13 knots: "Britannia" was able to take a victory on the third day of the final
What the skippers and tacticians had to say about races five and six in the Prada Cup final
Obviously happy with this comeback, Skipper Ainslie also reminded that his team still had deficits in winds below 13 knots. We know that. And they know that. But I can't praise my team enough. They never give up and we will fight to the end. We had a not so good race today. And a good race. The Luna Rossa boys had the better speed, especially upwind. We have been seeing that for a few months. We have to make the most of the boat we have. " "LunRossa" co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill said: "The fact is that we have an advantage in lighter winds. But it also remains that we have to continue to concentrate extremely."
The Italians are only missing two wins to move into the 36th America's Cup match against the Emirates Team New Zealand lurking there. The Prada Cup duel with races seven and eight could already come to an end on Sunday, because the final winner is the team that can secure seven wins first. The wind forecast for Sunday predicts a light north-easterly sea breeze around twelve knots. On paper this is again good news for the LunRossPradPirelli team. The outcome on the water can be seen live here from 4 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Results, intermediate results and live reporting are also available here (please click!).
Fair play and masks on land: Sir Ben Ainslie and Pietro Sibello