Sir Ben Ainslie says he is "really excited" to finally get the Prada Cup final underway this weekend, as his INEOS Team UK and opponent Luna Rossa prepare for what is expected to be a battle for the ages.
Ainslie and Luna Rossa skipper Max Sirena told reporters this morning they expected the final to be hard-fought and potentially go the distance of 13 races.
"I think it’s going to be a fantastic fight," Ainslie said.
"I think it’s going to be some really close racing against two very finely matched teams.
"As a sportsman that’s what you want. You want to be racing at the highest level, testing yourself against the best.
"You want to be racing at the highest level against the best - and this is it - so we’re excited."
Team UK defeated Luna Rossa all three times they faced in the round robin stages, and while Sirena felt his side were the definite underdog, he believed they still had more to give.
"We know we can sail at a higher level than what we’ve shown," he said.
"We need to sail well and we know how to do it, so it’s just a matter of putting it into practice.
"I think both teams will be pushing hard to win the first race.
"But I don’t think the team that wins the first race will for sure win the series."
Team UK have had three weeks off to work on their boat, however, kept their cards close to their chest today, refusing to go into detail about just what improvements had been made.
However, Sirena was more open to the changes that had been made to the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli since the last time the two teams met.
"We have a new foil, we have a new modified mast, we have a new set of sails, a lot of development on the software system of the boat and a lot of improvements to the communications on board.
"We made a lot of mistakes when we raced against them [Team UK] and we want to come out with one less mistake than them this time."
The winner of the final will advance to the America's Cup against Team New Zealand, a final that Ainslie believed would be "special".
"We know that whichever team makes it through to the final against Team NZ, that’s going to be a special, special final here on the Hauraki Gulf against an incredibly tough team.
"We know the Kiwis are going to be incredibly fast and it will be fascinating to see that trade off between a team that has perhaps had more time to develop, and a team that has had more time on the race course.
"I think thus far this America’s Cup has been a great showcase for the sport of sailing and let’s hope that continues."