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Despite chaotic Prada Cup pre-start with boats almost colliding, Luna Rossa crush INEOS Team UK again

Luna Rossa have moved within two wins of reaching the America's Cup after another crushing win over INEOS Team UK but race five didn't come without some chaos.

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After a fiery week off the water, the drama continued in the first race back. Source: 1 NEWS

After a fiery week off the water, the Prada Cup returned this afternoon with just as much drama with INEOS Team UK and Luna Rossa trading penalties at the start of the race.

Sir Ben Ainslie was far more aggressive than he has been in the series so far with the pre-start, resulting in Luna Rossa trying to squeeze INEOS Team UK out of passing through the start gate on the right.

The boats got within mere metres of each other and almost collided as they both crossed the start line early.

Penalties for the false starts were nullified by race officials because both teams had committed it, however Jimmy Spithill eventually got the upper hand early in the first leg as a tacking manoeuvre drew out another penalty against the Brits resulting in a lead change.

The penalty gave Luna Rossa a 100m lead as Spithill continued to press Ainslie and his crew to force them to fall back.

The lead remained that distance through the first mark with Luna Rossa taking the left-hand side of Course E and a 15 second advantage into the second leg.

INEOS Team UK weren’t able to make any ground downwind in the second leg, falling back further by another five seconds at the second mark.

Early in the third leg though, the lead doubled to 400m after INEOS Team UK opted for the right side of the course and found significantly less wind than Luna Rossa.

From there, the race was effectively over as Luna Rossa’s lead grew exponentially – INEOS Team UK 58 seconds behind at the third mark – and the Italians 850m away.

Once again, as he had in the first four races of this first-to-seven series, Spithill cruised the rest of the way to the finish, eventually winning by one minute and 20 seconds.

The win means Luna Rossa move to 5-0 in the series over INEOS Team UK, two wins shy of punching their ticket to an America’s Cup challenge against Team New Zealand.

A dejected Ainslie said the pre-start chaos was worth a shot regardless of the result.

"We've got to push it hard to try and make something happen," Ainslie said.

"Obviously, we fouled out but it must've been pretty close... it's in the hand of the umpires but I'd imagine it would be pretty close.

"It was worth taking the risk - I'd probably do it again."

The Italian syndicate can go to match point later this afternoon with a second race scheduled to get underway shortly after 5pm.