A masterclass tactical performance from Jimmy Spithill has led Luna Rossa to a commanding two-nil lead in the Prada Cup final.
Spithill showed his class on the Hauraki Gulf this afternoon, outmanoeuvring INEOS Team UK skipper Sir Ben Ainslie in both races.
After Luna Rossa dominated the first race, the wind picked up from 9 knots to 15 knots prior to the start of the second, giving INEOS Team UK more optimism to level the series.
It was an action-packed prestart, as Spithill and Ainslie tried to gain an early advantage and shut the other out of the starting box.
The two were neck and neck at the start line, with nothing separating the boats.
Luna Rossa took a slim lead through the first gate, but INEOS Team UK were hot on their tails.
The Brits were 17 seconds behind through the second gate and the Italians maintained that lead through the third.
While never completely out of it, INEOS Team UK just could not make up any ground, and eventually fell away in the final two legs, crossing the line 26 seconds behind the Italians.
It was a brilliant start to the final for Luna Rossa, who failed to beat Ainslie’s team in the round robin stages.
But as Spithill proved in the 2013 America’s Cup, history does not always matter.
Racing returns tomorrow with the two continuing their first-to-seven series with another two races.