America's Cup 2021: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli take early advantage over INEOS Team UK in challengers final

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have continued their America's Cup momentum into the challengers final, sweeping rivals INEOS Team UK in the opening two races on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

After sweeping NYYC American Magic out of the regatta in the Prada Cup elimination series, the Italians have carried that confidence into a showdown with the British, who have watched from the sidelines since heading the round-robin stages unbeaten three weeks ago.

That inaction may have cost the British their competitive edge, as skipper Sir Ben Ainslie never headed Luna Rossa counterparts Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni through their opening exchanges.

Light winds delayed the opening race and when the all-clear was given, Team UK immediately conceded the initiative, when they fell off their foils in the pre-start.

So too did Luna Rossa, but they were quicker to regain their poise and were already several hundred metres up the course, before their rivals could find the start-line.

A 1m 20s advantage at the first mark stretched beyond two minutes, before the British pegged back a few seconds down the final stretch - to no avail.

With winds freshening, Ainslie was more aggressive at the start of the second contest, as both boats hit the line together, but Luna Rossa tacked away first and immediately gained a few seconds that became 26 by the end.

"It was a good day," says Spithill. "I thought the boys sailed well on board.

"There are still obviously a few things we need to sharpen up on, but the boat was performing very, very well.

"We know we've got a great boat and a great package here, and a very good team backing us up on the shore. We're confident in our boat, but we know there's quite a bit there on the table."

Sir Ben has less than 24 hours to regain his competitive edge, before fronting for race three on Sunday.

"The Italians did a pretty good job and sailed that little bit faster, little better around the course," he says.

"We'll have to go away and think about how we can get a bit more pace and look at some of the things we didn't get quite right."

Join us at 4pm Sunday for live updates of the America's Cup challenger final between Luna Rossa and Team UK