Luna Rossa book place in America's Cup after 7-1 Prada Cup victory

It will be Luna Rossa who will advance to face Team New Zealand for the prestigious America’s Cup next month.

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The Italians wrapped up the Prada Cup series today, beating INEOS Team UK 7-1. Source: 1 NEWS

The Italian team easily won both races this afternoon to claim the Prada Cup with a 7-1 victory over INEOS Team UK and book an America's Cup berth for the first time in 21 years.

The battle between the challengers had been hyped as a potential tug-of-war, but in reality it was a canter for Luna Rossa, whose boat proved to be faster than the Brits throughout the series.

Luna Rossa co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill’s heartrate sat at a measly 62 beats per minute as he steered his team to two comfortable victories in light winds on the Hauraki Gulf.

After being pummelled by nearly two minutes in the first race this afternoon, Sir Ben Ainslie and INEOS Team UK refused to back down without a fight as they stared down the barrel of elimination.

Knowing nothing but a victory would do, the British team came out extremely aggressive in the prestart of this afternoon’s second race, drawing a mistake from Luna Rossa, who crossed the line early as they tried to counter-punch.

But it was the Italians who took a slim 12 second lead through the first gate.

“We are going to need something pretty special here,” Ainslie was heard telling his team as the dreams of a berth in the America’s Cup began to fade into the horizon.

Luna Rossa’s lead remained 12 seconds through gate two, but INEOS Team UK just could not make any inroads, slowly drifting further and further behind.

The lead never blew out like it had an hour earlier, but by the final turn Luna Rossa were 53 seconds ahead and that was the way it remained.

Speaking as calmly as ever, Spithill described the victory as a "pretty good day at the office".

"We really tried to minimise the mistakes [today].

"We just tried to keep calm, make good decisions and let the boat do the work."

Co-helmsman Francesco Bruni showed far more emotion, letting out an almighty cheer while embracing Spithill.

"It's a great day for us, a great day for Luna Rossa, and a great day for Italy."

The victory means the Italian team will compete in their first America's Cup since 2000.

However, they will be hoping for a different result.

In that instance, Russell Coutts led Team New Zealand to a 5-0 victory over Luna Rossa in Auckland.

But this Luna Rossa team have proven they will be a formidable opponent for Team New Zealand come March 6 when this edition of the America's Cup gets underway.