America’s Cup 2021: Phil Robertson – The telling moment from Ineos Team UK’s poor start in Prada Cup final

Luna Rossa took a 2-0 lead in the Prada Cup final yesterday, with opponent Ineos Team UK not at their best. There was one telling moment which showed what was wrong for the British team, writes Phil Robertson.

OPINION:

The British were off their game. The Italians have made a big leap forward.

Those were the two big messages from day one of the Prada Cup final.

The communication between Sir Ben Ainslie and Giles Scott on board Britannia has been lauded so far but they weren’t at their best in losing the opening two races to Luna Rossa in the best-of-13 final.

There was one particularly telling moment, the first cross in the second race, when Ineos dipped about a boat length behind Luna Rossa, when the gap should only have been a couple of metres.

It was a huge loss and it showed to me that the communication on board the British boat was a bit off.

They haven’t raced for about a month and those sorts of communication moments can only be honed in actual racing.

Under pressure, the Brits weren’t their usual calm selves. You could hear a bit of anxiousness in Ainslie’s voice, and he got a bit stroppy at his afterguard at some points. That is not the usual, cool Ineos style.

The stronger wind conditions predicted for the third and fourth races today will give Ineos some confidence, but the Italians have made big steps forward particularly upwind in heavier winds.

A classically confident Jimmy Spithill is back, and Luna Rossa know they have got a very fast boat which they are not afraid to push. They are a force.

The way they have been able to tweak the boat while still competing in the Prada Cup semifinals is very impressive.

In contrast, Ineos had a month to work on their boat. They may have hit the wall design-wise after a herculean effort to turn their campaign around after poor performances before Christmas.

It was no surprise to see Luna Rossa dominate in the light airs, but when the breeze came up for the second race it should have played into their hands.

Overall, the starts remain vital.

Luna Rossa got ahead on day one, put the boat in the right spots, and gave Ineos no options to pass.

I don’t think there was a big speed difference around the track, and certainly not enough to suggest one boat was capable of blowing the other out of the water.

With their on-board work sure to improve having finally raced again after the long break, Ineos will be a tougher proposition from here on.

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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