The PRADA Cup Final is not done and dusted yet, with INEOS TEAM UK marking their first point on the scoreboard, there may still a long way to go.
In the first race of the day, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli resumed racing where it was left last weekend, getting their nose in front at the start and kept the British in their wake to claim a vital fifth point. However in the second race Ben Ainsie got his hands on the textbook finally and executed the same game plan to take a convincing first point.
Two more wins is all will take for the Italians to take the PRADA Cup, but the British team will not give up without a fight. With the teams having pretty even boat speeds the pre-start became the key moment of the whole race, start ahead and most likely will finish ahead.
PRADA Cup Final - Race 5
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli beat INEOS TEAM UK
Current: 0.2 knots @ 353
Winner Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – 1:20
Any nervousness that the sea breeze would struggle to develop was dispensed with well before the start with 8-10 knots sweeping across the course area from the south west. In the pre-race preparations, both teams were foiling comfortably around the race course area, the day was on.
Coming into the pre-start duel Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli came in from the right, crossing INEOS TEAM UK who entered on starboard, but would either team risk close engagement and risk coming off their foils?
The opening seconds of the pre-start suggested not as the pair kept their distance but then, as the clock counted down to the start both clearly wanted the right hand end of the start line.
The British were to windward, a commanding position as they swooped down towards Luna Rossa in the closing seconds. But the Italians had managed their final run into the line perfectly and were able to force the British to alter course and keep clear at a crucial stage in the countdown.
The jury delivered a penalty to the British but both boats were early across the line, the penalites scrubbed each other out. But in the coming together of the two boats INEOS TEAM UK were deemed to have infringed the boundary around Luna Rossa and were given a penalty. But the story wasn’t over yet.
The pair had split tacks and when INEOS TEAM UK and Luna Rossa came back together for the first time Luna Rossa claimed that the British had gained an advantage from their position. The jury agreed and gave INEOS TEAM UK a second penalty. Now the British had to give away distance to clear it but that proved difficult.
INEOS TEAM UK had got to the better side of the course and kept benefitting from their position making it difficult to scrub off the distance and clear their penalty. By the time they had, Luna Rossa was in the lead.
By Gate 1 it was Luna Rossa that were through first, rounding the right hand mark 15 seconds ahead. On the downwind leg there were few passing lanes, but INEOS TEAM UK were able to sail slightly deeper to reel in some distance on Luna Rossa taking the advantage from 220 m to 160 m. But their gain was short lived.
As the race played out the Italians sailed a perfectly executed race aboard a boat that appears to have an extra gear when it comes to the angles that it can sail upwind. As each lap went by the Italian advantage grew and by the finish Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli crossed 1 min 20 sec ahead.
PRADA Cup Final - Race 6
INEOS TEAM UK beat Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli
Current: 0.2 knots @ 353
Wind 8-12knots 225 degrees
Winner INEOS TEAM UK - 0:14
For the second race of the day the breeze had increased slightly. INEOS TEAM UK were first into the pre-start zone and were able to control the start more readily. Two small advantages, but would the British team be able to convert these into an advantage at the start?
As both boats headed towards the start line, positions were reversed from the first start of the day, Luna Rossa was to windward this time with INEOS TEAM UK to leeward and ahead. Despite some aggressive manoeuvring aboard Luna Rossa, INEOS TEAM UK took a narrow advantage at the start, bagging the left hand end of the line and now able to push out to the extreme left hand side of the course.
The crucial moment was coming up as both headed out towards the left hand boundary. Luna Rossa tacked off early allowing the British to continue out to the extreme side of the left hand side of the course. The pair were neck and neck as they headed back towards the right.
As Luna Rossa came back on starboard INEOS TEAM UK were ahead on port but chose to tack onto starboard underneath them to bounce off the Italians, a classic lee bow tack.
As they approached the top gate for the first time the pair were now separated across the width of the course and it was INEOS TEAM UK that had gained, the distance between them around 50 m.
And when they crossed, INEOS TEAM UK were laying the right hand mark of gate 1 and rounded 8 seconds ahead of the Luna Rossa – the first time they had been ahead since the PRADA Cup Final had begun.
On the downwind slide the British were now 150 m ahead. Halfway down the leg the margin had grown to 200 m. By the bottom gate they rounded 21 secs ahead.
INEOS TEAM UK were now starting to change their tactical play by defending their position. Luna Rossa knew it and were tacking frequently in an attempt to force INEOS to do so in the hope that the British would lose some of their distance.
Meanwhile, the sea breeze was climbing slowly but steadily with an average just breaking through 10 knots.
At gate 3 both boats took the left hand mark, INEOS TEAM UK led by 18 seconds, Luna Rossa had clawed back three seconds, but their gain was short lived as INEOS TEAM UK opened up their lead to 430 m on the water and it continued to grow. Through gate 4 the British were now 32 secs ahead with one lap to go.
But this race was far from over. A shift in the breeze and a drop in its strength allowed Luna Rossa to make gains on the final upwind leg. INEOS TEAM UK were back under pressure.
Through the final gate INEOS TEAM UK took the right hand mark, Luna Rossa the left and the distance between them was now just 9secs. Now it was a drag race to the finish, the British needed to defend their position as Luna Rossa attacked.