America's Cup 2021: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli 'happy to be in game', says veteran sailor Ken Read

Veteran sailor and commentator Ken Read has declared the opening America's Cup exchanges a draw, but admits Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli will be relieved to share honours on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

After dropping the opening race of the best-of-13 series to Emirates Team NZ, the Italians bounced back to square the ledger with a seven-second win in race two. 

After the Kiwis dominated the pre-Christmas world series, many believed they would hit the ground running for the Cup match and possibly blow their rivals out of the water.

Others feared they would be off the pace, after more than two months of competitive inactivity.

Read admits the early racing probably showed more of the latter than the former.

"They both have a little something to happy for," Read tells Newshub. "If you're an Italian fan, you're just happy to be in the game.

"With all the bluster and prognosis coming into this event, you would have thought the Italians lost before they even showed up.

"If you're a Kiwi, you went back 1-1... there's not question you're a little rusty. You've got some games under your belt, and get to go back and analyse, have a good look at it and come out fighting the next day."

In both races, the team that won the start also went on to win the finish, a trend that was already evident through Prada Cup challenger racing last month.

"There's been one pass in the last 14 races, so you better be good at starting right now," reflects Read. "These boats are so fast and these racecourses are so tight, they're not making any mistakes any more.

"If the boat ahead sails perfectly, they win and the Italians showed they're fast enough to win if they get ahead."

As international commentator, Read insists he won't make predictions on the eventual outcome.

"I'm just glad we've got an event," he says. "If you believed the hype, you would have thought the Kiwis were 40 knots faster, not just four.

"I think we've got a good race here and I hope for a long series."

Join us at 4:15pm Friday for the next America's Cup race between Team NZ and Luna Rossa