America's Cup 2021: Start wins proven critical in deciding victors after opening races

If there's one takeaway from the opening day of America's Cup racing, it'll be that the future location of the 'Auld Mug' might just be decided by whichever team is quickest off the line.

After an exciting first day of racing, the early series score between Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli is locked at 1-1, with both wins resulting from start-line dominance.

Storming out to an early lead in the first race, Team NZ took the bragging rights with a 31-second victory, only for Luna Rossa to flip the script with a seven-second win in the second. 

Team NZ skipper Peter Burling has emphasised the importance of gaining the advantage in the starts.

"One thing today did show [is] that if you get behind at the start, it's pretty hard to get past," Burling says. "We did a good job of the first start and Luna Rossa will probably kick themselves for that, and vice-versa in the second."

In fact, dating back through the Prada Cup won by Luna Rossa, only once in the last 14 races has a team lost, after taking the initial lead.

Luna Rossa's Francesco Bruni is confident racing will be more of a see-saw affair, when the two sides hit the water again on Friday.

"What's happened lately is that the last 6-8 races we've sailed have been in a pretty stable breeze - nothing like the southwesterly on the C Course," Bruni says. "That explains why the team who's leading at the start was capitalising through the race, that's what's happened lately.

"Once the breeze is more shifty, you'll see more passes."

If there's any solace for Kiwi fans though, it's that Team NZ's margin of defeat - seven seconds - was much smaller than that of their opponents (31s).

And with just one day off in between races, Burling is confident Team NZ know exactly what went wrong - and how to fix it.

"We made a small mistake on the round-up, where we thought we were in a good position, then dropped off a little bit there," he notes.

"It's definitely hard to pass in these boats, but we're really happy with how we dug deep in the last lap of the last race and really managed to close things up.

"We've done a whole heap of practice with the boat handling and how we approach the start. 

"That last start, we kind of liked the right, so we wanted to start to windward, but just screwed up the last round-up really. [It was] a pretty simple mistake, which definitely puts you on the back foot.

"I think the margins in these boats are getting smaller and smaller, and any loss is obviously very hard to come back from. Luna Rossa did a really good job of shutting the race down in that first lap.

"From there, we managed to get our nose free a little bit in the last one and close things up, but really ran out of runway at the end."

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