It was the perfect start for Italy's America's Cup hunters: The LunRossPradPirelli team won the first two matches against Sir Ben Ainslies Ineos Team UK in the Prada Cup final. In initially light winds of six to nine knots, but also in medium winds of 14 to 17 knots in the second match of the day, the Azzurri had the bow tip twice and prevailed against the British, no matter how strong in the preliminary round. Prada Patriarch Patrizio Bertelli's racing team is thus 2-0 in the "First to win seven" series, in which the team that wins seven wins first. Fan comments like this were quick and easy on social media: "The Queen will not be pleased", "Shut up and keep working hard" or "What did the British newspapers say? LunRos will cry? Well then …"
Makes Italy's Cup fans dream: "LunRossa"
Despite the expected light winds, the first encounter of the day started with a delay of only two minutes. It was clear to both teams that in the gentle breeze, the main thing would be to stay on the foils. Accordingly, it was obvious that the opponents did not want to engage each other in a duel. The risk seemed too great. It was then "Britannias" hull that fell first into the floods, while the Italians were just able to avoid the involuntary emergency braking. As in previous races, "LunRossa" seemed more light-footed in dealing with just a few knots of wind and was able to go straight into the race, while Sir Ben Ainslie's Ineos Team UK was still struggling to get back on their feet. "When we finally did that," said the four-time Olympic champion Ainslie after the race, "we were already half a course behind." It was a perfect start for the Italians, and a painful experience for the English after their brilliant performance in the preliminary round. All the more so as the Azzurri expanded their lead even further in the course of the race, long after the British were racing over the course on foils again. Which was also due to the fact that they caught themselves twice penalties due to the oversailing of the course limit.
In the second race of the day safely back on the foils and fast, but not fast enough: "Britannia"
Here you can watch the two opening races of the day again
"LunRossa" already had a lead of 1 minute and 20 seconds at the first mark. At the finish they made 1 minute and 52 seconds out of it - half a world in the fast foiling fight. Hope germinated for the "Britannia" crew with increasing winds, which in the second race refreshed to a mean 14 to 17 knots and even caused small white whitecaps on the course. The British flew into the start box with a similar foaming, visibly interested in the right-hand side. The Italian team necked and followed. Everything pointed to a gripping pre-start duel. Ineos Team UK initially defended its leading position, but at the same time was a little early for the start and had to slow down a bit. Nevertheless, both teams finally crossed the starting line with good speed and parallel to each other. In fact, observers at that moment saw an advantage for the British, who had their bow a little ahead of the Italians.
Helmsman Francesco Bruni and his team could not hold long in their position in the slight downdraft of "Britannia" and had to turn away: Advantage Ineos Team UK. But already at the next meeting it became clear that LunRoss had been able to make up ground with a wind turner. The British went behind the Italians, who were subsequently able to reach the first mark with an eleven-second lead. The British headed for the same mark of the gate but halted shortly after the curve, while the Italians stormed down the right side of the course. The boat speeds increased on both boats to 43 to 45 knots. The Italians were able to extend their lead up to the second mark to 270 meters.
Both teams had recognized that afterwards the left side of the course had an advantage. This can be seen in the repetition of the live broadcast from your on-board communication. By the next third turning mark, the Italians had extended their lead to 19 seconds. As a result, the British could no longer find a fast lane. Although they came a little closer, they only reached the finish line 26 seconds after the Italians. In the race analysis, both helmsmen - the double-beaten Sir Ben Ainslie and the twice-victorious Francesco Bruni - were in agreement. Ainslie said: "Race two was really close." And Bruni confirmed: "It could easily have turned out the other way round. We sailed well today, but we made a few mistakes. We have to keep working hard. I think we will see many more close races."
What the sailors had to say after the 2-0 opener for Italy's cup hunters
Ainslie also confirmed after these two opening matches that the Italians had made the better choice in the second race with a smaller headsail: "That is a good point. A smaller headsail would probably have been the better choice." At the press conference following the races, Francesco Bruni even came to Ainslie's help with this topic and confirmed: "The foresail decision was not a straightforward matter. We had opted for the smaller foresail, but we didn't know whether that was the right thing to do." Bruni, experienced as a match racer just like Sir Ben Ainslie, drew a cautiously satisfied balance after this day, which put a smile on his boss Patrizio Bertelli's face in his Italian homeland: "I'm glad because our boat has not only become faster, it has become we didn't have any pre-start problems either. And I'm very satisfied with our country team. We had a very good overall package today. " At the same time, Bruni warned: "It's a long series! Let's stay focused and don't waste time on early celebrations." After the races on the water, this was also underscored by the second helmsman of the team with whom Bruni shares his duties in the LunRossPradPirelli team. Jimmy Spithill said: "We made a few mistakes today. We want to fix them by tomorrow."
For races three and four on Sunday, Sir Ben Ainslie and his team would like a different perspective than this one at the start
In the Italian camp, the joy on Saturday reached down to the smallest fans
Cup paradise Auckland: The New Zealanders currently have no corona problems with a strict quarantine policy. The fans can enjoy the sailing spectacle in the summer sunshine without worries
On this sunny day in Auckland, New Zealand, Sir Ben Ainslie naturally saw a need for action: "I think both teams know that they can do better. We have improved a lot in light winds, but not enough yet. Medium winds are tighter It depends on which team sails better. We're not happy with 2-0. " His verdict on the speed potential of the boats: "Above ten knots there are two very equal teams, both of which can win. LunRoss has an advantage below ten knots. But we've been getting better since day one." When asked whether his team had a disadvantage compared to the Italians, who defeated American Magic in the intermediate round and were able to win some match practice, Ainslie said: "I think so I didn't. The first race today was decided by the fact that we couldn't get on the foils. In the second race we sailed well - LunRoss even better. Today we had the worse end for us. Tomorrow it won't be the case."
Ainslie wouldn't be Ainslie if he didn't make such a challenge to his opponent. The forecasts promise more wind for the second day of the final and races three and four than at the start and new hope for the British. For now, however, the Italians are enthroned 2-0 at the top of the intermediate standings in the battle for a place in the 36th America's Cup, where the New Zealand defenders are eagerly awaiting their opponents.
Here you can find news, results and race analyzes about the PradCup 2021 (please click!).
The results after day 1 in the Prada Cup final
Italian joy with helmsman Francesco Bruni