America’s Cup 2021: Impressive Luna Rossa take 2-0 lead over Ineos Team UK after first day of Prada Cup final

In the early going of the Prada Cup final, it appears race time trumps development time.

After obliterating American Magic 4-0 in the semifinals, Luna Rossa have taken a 2-0 lead in the final against Ineos Team UK, who haven’t sailed since the end of the round robins last month.

After taking a substantial lead over the starting line in the first race of the series and going on to cruise to a comfortable win, Luna Rossa backed it up in a far more competitive affair in the second showdown.

Luna Rossa claimed a 26-second win in race two, leading at every gate in an impressive display of sailing.

With the wind picking up between the first and second races, both teams made a good start; crossing the line together before Luna Rossa pulled an early manoeuvre to split the course.

In what was an entertaining match race, Luna Rossa just seemed to be a click ahead of Team UK throughout – getting the better of the crosses and reading the conditions well.

They never led by more than 30 seconds at a gate, but looked comfortable as they sailed around the course to take a 2-0 buffer.

In the first race, Team UK dropped off their foils inside the starting box and struggled to get flying again in the light conditions, while the Italian syndicate pounced on the opportunity to take a substantial early lead.

With the teams matching one another in speed for the most part, the British crew were left hoping for a mistake from the Italians to get back into the game and, given their past races, their hopes weren’t exactly misplaced.

Luna Rossa made a number of mistakes during their round robin clashes, but with an improved boat and communication on board to match, Luna Rossa looked a polished product in the opening race.

“This is a spanking,” AUT sailing professor and former Team NZ crew member Mark Orams said after the first race.

“It’s not just the sit downs which have cost [Ineos], Luna Rossa is simply faster up and down wind in the lighter conditions.”

They led by 80 seconds after the first leg, and that margin was as close as Team UK got in the race, with the gap extended after each of the first five legs. Team UK were able to make time up on the final leg, but it was simply a matter of boosting confidence at that point with the race well and truly over.

Ultimately, Luna Rossa cruised to a comfortable win and the early advantage in the series, handing Team UK their first loss of 2021.

Heading into the Cup racing?

• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.

• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.

• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup Village.

• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.

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