Team UK claim crucial win in Prada Cup finals

Ineos Team UK during their win over Luna Rossa in Race 6 Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
Ineos Team UK during their win over Luna Rossa in Race 6 Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
Ineos Team UK are on the board.

After falling into a 5-0 hole in the Prada Cup finals series against Luna Rossa and with the pressure on to make something happen in the best of 13 series, the British syndicate sailed a clean race to get the better of their Italian counterparts in the second race on Saturday.

It wasn't without drama, however, as Luna Rossa ate into a comfortable Team UK lead on the fifth leg, rounding the final gate just nine seconds adrift after being more than 30 seconds back at the previous gate.

As has been the case all series, the team with the better start controlled the racing, with Team UK leading at every gate. However, it was an interesting tale as Luna Rossa gained ground in every upwind leg, but Team UK pulled away in every downwind leg.

It was a slim 14-second win for Team UK, but one they desperately needed after Luna Rossa took out the first race of the day by 80 seconds.

"We're not gong to give up these boys - we'll fight all the way," Sir Ben Ainslie said after the second race.

But he admitted their boat was struggling to keep up at low winds: "Above 13 knots the boats [are] pretty even, beneath that we struggle. We know it, they know it.

"Sailing these boats, it is very difficult to do it perfectly."

Luna Rossa co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill said: "It was a great race. It's always one at a time, you never think about the end result. It is one of those race tracks where the lead boat could stretch a little, especially on the upwind legs."

The earlier race was set up at the starting line, where the teams played out the most exciting start of the America's Cup campaign thus far.

Flying toward the starting line, neither team gave an inch on the line they approach it at and came close to colliding as they crossed the line – both crossing the line early.

However, Luna Rossa had the advantageous position and protested the approach by Team UK, who were handed a penalty and had to drop 50m behind their counterparts.

That penalty wasn't enforced until the British crew got their noses in front, and they were forced to drop back. That opened the door for Luna Rossa to get ahead and gain dominant position on the course.

Team UK managed to maintain just a 20-second deficit through the second gate, but that quickly extended to nearly a minute on the third leg.

From there, Luna Rossa simply extended the margin – crossing the finish line 80 seconds before the British crew.

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