America's Cup 2021: INEOS Team UK finally break drought with first victory over Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

After falling into a deep hole, Sir Ben Ainslie has given British sailing some hope, guiding INEOS Team UK to their first victory in the America's Cup challenger final off Auckland.

In their best-of-13 series, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli extended their advantage to 5-0 in Saturday's opening race, but allowed their rivals a foot in the door, when they were outduelled at the start of the second and never regained their edge.

The Brits had been decisively beaten in each of the previous four starts of this Prada Cup final, but Ainslie was far more aggressive, actually leading early in the day's opening race, but having to concede that advantage under penalty.

Luna Rossa helmsman Jimmy Spithill tried to force his counterpart off the start-line, but Ainslie charged through a tiny gap, as both boats crossed early.

Race officials deemed the British yacht Britannia passed too close to the Italians, but when Ainslie tacked away to serve his penalty, he actually found favourable wind that carried him ahead.

Officials continued to warn him that his penalty still stood and when he finally fell the required distance behind, the four-time Olympic champion could not make up the deficit to drop another race.  

Second time round, Team UK entered the start box and dictated terms, turning the same tactics back on Luna Rossa and leading off the line.

Their advantage stretched beyond 400m downwind on the fourth of six legs, but they had to hold their nerve, as the Italians closed within 120m over the final stretch.

Leading by 32 seconds at the fourth gate, the Brits were just nine seconds ahead at the final mark and eventually prevailed by 14.

"We're a bit happier with the win than being on the wrong side of it over the last few days of racing," says Ainslie.

"Our guys did a great job... they weren't going to give up, these boys. They'll keep fighting all the way and to get one back is what we needed."

Spithill concedes he never considered the series would finish as a whitewash.

"They sailed a great race and we sailed damage control," he says. "There weren't a whole lot of opportunities and especially on this course, where the lead boat was able to stretch a little, especially upwind."

Luna Rossa can still clinch their spot in next month's America's Cup match against Emirates Team NZ with two wins on Sunday.

Join us at 4pm Sunday for live updates of the Prada Cup final between Luna Rossa and Team UK