Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat INEOS TEAM UK
PRADA Cup Final - Race 7
Current: 0.2 knots @ 007
Winner Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – 1:45
All eyes were on the start. Based on the previous races in this PRADA Cup Final it was the opening stages of the race that frequently defined the result.
After facing five losses in a row, INEOS TEAM UK had shown that winning the start in race 6 could lead to winning the race overall.
Today, as the British led into the start line after having escaped the clutches of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli just moments before, the early advantage was to INEOS TEAM UK. But it didn’t take long for that to change.
With both boats heading off the line on starboard, Luna Rossa was to windward in a tricky position as they tried to keep the pace on while sailing in the disturbed air off the back of the British boat.
As both boats headed out towards the left-hand side of the course it was clear that the Italians had the extra mode that has been talked about during previous races allowing them to sail higher than their opponent while maintaining the same speed.
As both boats tacked at the boundary, Luna Rossa was still to leeward but now they were ahead. Their second punch was about to be delivered.
As they squeezed their way up to INEOS TEAM UK they did so without losing any pace once again and eventually forced the British to tack. Advantage Luna Rossa.
Complete confirmation came when the pair came back together the next time, Luna Rossa was clearly ahead.
From there the pedal went down to the floor on the Italian boat. They passed through the first gate 16 seconds ahead. By the bottom they had increased this to 21 and by the top for the second time they were now 1min 7sec ahead. Luna Rossa was running away with this race.
Meanwhile, since shortly after the start the wind speed had dropped from 15 knots at Rangitoto light house to just below 12 knots. INEOS TEAM UK Skipper and Helmsman Sir Ben Ainslie had made it clear after Saturday’s race that this was tricky territory for the British. ‘We know it, they know it, that’s the challenge,” he had said. This race was providing further evidence of this. By the last windward gate Luna Rossa were 1 min 45 sec ahead of the British and only a disaster would deny them a sixth victory.
But the last leg of the race was executed as perfectly as the previous five and they crossed the line the same distance ahead. Just one more race and the PRADA Cup would be theirs. For the British, they had to win every race from here to do the same. The next race would be absolutely crucial.
“We’re super happy, for sure we are very close but we have to stay focussed,” said Luna Rossa’ co-helmsman Francesco Bruni after the finish. “We definitely have the high mode.”
For the British Skipper things had clearly got even tougher.
“We’ve got to win every race from here so it gets pretty simple,” he said. “We’ve been trying everything we can to get on top of it, but clearly at the moment we can’t.”