Live updates: America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ v Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, Races 1 & 2

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Perhaps a psychological edge for the Italians, who showed this will be a competitive series, even if there were no actual passes in that contest.

Already, starts are crucial and whoever win them are in prime position.

Join us again at 4:15pm Friday for Race 3 of this America's Cup match.

Race 2

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli v Emirates Team NZ

Luna Rossa win by seven seconds, series level 1-1

Finish - The lead is now only 100m, but time running out for TEam NZ...

Luna Rossa level the series, but the margin is only seven seconds at the end, so maybe the Kiwis do have something more up their sleeve.

Sixth leg - Team NZ split left, while Luna Rossa head right, as they sprint to the finish.

The margin has stretched back out to 200m, with Italy just covering any late move.

The Kiwis do seem to have a finishing kick, they're nibbling away at the lead.

Fifth leg - Luna Rossa seem to have the edge upwind - they stretch their lead towards the top mark and then hold it, coming back downhill.

That said, Team NZ seem to have made up some ground on that first beat, now below 200m.

Round this top mark will be crucial, with the margin now only 160m.

Both boats heading left and NZ have the deficit down to 130m.

BOth boats heading to the right layline now and probably tack to the final gate from there.

Team NZ trailling Luna Rossa to the top gate, both heading to the left mark. They've halved the deficit to 12 seconds.

Fourth leg - What have the Kiwis got downwind? Luna Rossa were 49 knots around the top mark, Team NZ went 51 knots...

The lead is now over 400m and the series looks like it will be level after day one.

Luna Rossa are really managing the course, not allowing Team NZ to find anything that can get them back into the contest. 

Italy round the bottom gate and have stretched their lead... actually, Team NZ shaved a second and are now 24 seconds back.

Third leg - Team NZ head left, and Luna Ross have already headed right and have to come back to cover.

Italy arrive at the centre of the course and then disengage, tacking right again - they've seen something out that side.

Team NZ are working the left, reaching centre and then tacking back.

The Kiwis arrive at the left boundary and tack back, about 250m back.

Looks like both boats will lay from the right. Luna Rossa arrive at the layline and tack towards the top gate, abotu 300m ahead.

Luna Rossa round the top gate to the left and they're 25 seconds ahead.

Second leg - The lead is out to almost 300m for Italy. So far, winning the start is proving crucial.

Team NZ don't seem to be making any inroads into that lead. Luna Rossa arrive at the right layline and jibe towards the bottom gate.

Team NZ follow 220m behind.

The Italians round the left mark, Team NZ around the right, 12 seconds behind.

First leg - Team NZ immediately tack right and Luna Rossa follow to protect their narrow lead.

The Kiwis tack left and Luna Rossa match, still 60-70m ahead.

Both boats at 35 knots. Team NZ tack right, Italy follow.

Team NZ have a chance to use their boat speed, with some room to move.

The Kiwis tack and Luna Rossa follow, covering every move.

Both boats lay for the top gate from the left, with Italy rounding the right mark 13 seconds up.

Start - Luna Rossa will have port entry this time round and the race committee has confirmed the wind is ok to race.

The Italians head right and Kiwis follow. Luna Rossa turn before the boundary, but Team NZ turning the other way to head along the line.

Both boats slowing down, Team NZ cutting behind Luna Rossa, as they head to the line.

Expletive from Team NZ, as Luna Rossa lead at the line...

5:08pm - That result will have eased some anxiety through Team NZ, after their two months off competitive inactivity.

As helmsman Peter Burling said afterwards, it was a pleasant change to talk about racing another actual team, rather than a chase boat.

Sounds like the wind is rising out on the course and some of the marks have been moved slightly to accommodate.

Race 1

Emirates Team NZ v Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli

Team NZ win by 31 seconds, lead series 1-0

Finish - Team NZ cross first and have extended their margin over Luna Rossa to 31 seconds over that final leg.

Next race scheduled for 5:15pm, that's 33 minutes away.

Sixth leg - Now it's a drag race - how much speed do Luna Rossa have to make up this deficit?

Both boats travelling about 42-43 knots, but the lead has grown to 400m for NZ.

Team NZ now laying for the finish-line from the left, 550m ahead. They will take opening honours in this America's Cup series.

Fifth leg - This time, the Italians follow Team NZ right and the deficit is 250m.

The Kiwis have tacked left and Italians have reached the right boundary before following. The margin reaches 290m.

Luna Rossa need a mistake from Team NZ to get back into this contest.

NZ laying from the right, Luna Rossa haven't laid from the left, so they have another tack before they head to the gate.

The Kiwis round the top gate and head to the finish. The margin is 20 seconds, so Team NZ gained some on that leg.

Fourth leg - Downwind, the lead hits 350m, with the boats split - Team NZ to the left and Luna Rossa to the right.

They cross about 350m apart, with NZ now heading right and Italy left.

The Kiwis turn on the right boundary and lay for the bottom gate. Luna Rossa are still heading left and haven't laid yet.

Team NZ round the left mark and Luna Rossa choose the right mark, just 17 seconds back now. Another small gain.

Third leg - NZ went wide left and their lead now seems to dwindle as they tack back towards the centre.

Luna Rossa still cross 320m behind, still within a margin of error right now.

Team NZ reach the righthand boundary before tacking - the wind is better out to the right upwind.

The Kiwis are heading left, Luna Rossa right and they will cross about 270m apart, so a little gain for the Italians.

Team NZ are really exploring the extremities - they hit the left boundary and lay for the top gate from the left.

Team NZ lead at halfway, rounding the top gate 19 seconds up - Luna Rossa made some gains on that leg.

Second leg - The lead has stretched to 300m now, as both boats jibe to the left.

The Kiwis seem to have a couple of extra knots downwind.

Both boats hit the left layline and head toward the bottom gate - that downwind leg took no time.

Te Rehutai round the second gate, right mark and have extended their lead to 23 seconds. Team NZ head left, Luna Rossa create the split by heading right.

First leg - Team NZ pass in front of Luna Ross and the Italians immediately try for a protest. No penalty.

The Kiwis have 100m lead, with both heading to the right side of the course.

Both are travelling at 36-37 knots upwind, as Luna Ross tack left and Team NZ match them, just covering.

The Italians tack right and Team NZ cover again, lead holding at 140m.

Breeze seems better on the right side of the course and both lay for the top gate from the right.

Team NZ round the left mark first and Luna Rossa follow 14 seconds behind. They head down the right side after the turn.

Start - The defenders will have first port entry for race one. Both boats just chilling, with five minutes to go, sitting off their foils.

The race committee has completed wind sampling and declared this race will start on time.

Starts have been crucial to racing so far, with the boat ahead at the first mark invariably winning.

Team NZ already travelling 47 knots as they cross the start box left to right. Luna Rossa just tracking them at this stage.

The Kiwis hit the boundary and turn back, Luna Rossa turn in front of them and lead back to the line.

Both boats heading to the line, but they're early, so will have turn down the line.

Both hit the line together, Team NZ to starboard and both head left.

3:44pm - Big prediction from former Team NZ/American Magic skipper Dean Barker on TVNZ race build-up - the Kiwis will adopt the dual-helmsman set-up used so successfully by their rivals during this regatta, with skipper/trimmer Glenn Ashby sharing the load with Peter Burling.

That will add to the pre-start intrigue.

3:40pm - Massive spectator fleet gathering off Maraetai to watch some racing. Some estimates are that numbers will reach twice the biggest fleet for Prada Cup challenger racing.

Wonder how that stacks up against Alert Level 2 protocols....


Kia ora, good afternoon and welcome to Newshub's live coverage of the opening day of the 2021 America's Cup match between holders Emirates Team NZ and challengers Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.

An eternity seems to have passed since the Italians trounced INEOS Team UK for the right to challenge for the 'Auld Mug'. In fact, this whole process has dragged out longer any other sporting event in living memory, especially if you count the pre-Christmas world series.

Most of the racing has been one-sided - most of the real action has been off the water, with rivals uniting to help a stricken NYYC American Magic back on the water after their mid-race crash and then returning to their bickering over COVID-19 lockdown race protocols.

Over the past week, the passive-aggressive trash talk between Kiwis and Italians has ramped up another level, with no-one really quite sure what to expect until both boats square off on the water.

Before Christmas, Team NZ held the upper hand over Luna Rossa, but the challengers have improved exponentially since then, maybe most markedly in their teamwork across a unique dual-helmsman set-up.

Beyond looking very fast, literally no-one knows what the Kiwis are capable of, but those of us old enough will remember last time they defended the Cup (2003), when they were supposed to be absolutely unbeatable - and then their boat disintegrated before our very eyes.

Racing today will take place on Course E, the southernmost track of the six available, bearing in mind the inner-harbour courses are out of bounds at Alert Level 2.

North-nothwesterly winds of 10-13 knots are expected, but with sizeable fluctuations that will test crews' ability to think on their feet.

TAB odds: Team NZ $1.15, Luna Rossa $4.75

Team NZ 7-0 $2.90, Team NZ 7-1 $3.20, Team NZ 7-3 $4.25, Team NZ 7-4 $21, Team NZ 7-5 $31, Team NZ 7-6 $41

Luna Rossa 7-0 $51, Luna Rossa 7-1 $36, Luna Rossa 7-2 $23, Luna Rossa 7-3 $21, Luna Rossa 7-4 $18, Luna Rossa 7-5 $26, Luna Rossa 7-6 $31

Shared spoils on day one 'fantastic result' for Luna Rossa - Butterworth

After an extended period of pre-regatta speculation, Wednesday's opening races of the America's Cup regatta will provide an instant litmus test as to how Emirates Team NZ and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli match up on the water.

According to former Team NZ great and now-Luna Rossa consultant Brad Butterworth, all the pressure is on skipper Peter Burling and his crew to live up to the nation's belief that their superior boat will prove far too strong.

The weight of that expectation and their lack of exposure to the challengers mean the opening two races will be the most challenging stage of the series, says Butterworth.

"In every America's Cup, the first few races are the most difficult," Butterworth tells AM Show.

"They'll learn everything in the first couple of races - exactly what the other boat can do and the capability of the other boat."

Butterworth - who won the America's Cup with both Team NZ and Alinghi - believes anything less than a 2-0 advantage to Team NZ at the end of the day's racing would be a huge win for the Italians.

Luna Rossa, Team NZ & Brad Butterworth
Luna Rossa, Team NZ & Brad Butterworth Photo credit: Photosport/The AM Show

"If it were 1-1 after today it would be a fantastic result for Luna Rossa," he says.

"You saw that Luna Rossa were a couple of knots faster than Team UK, and that didn't show up until right at the end.

"That's the problem Team NZ have, that they haven't been exposed to these other teams."

Butterworth agrees with widespread opinion that Team NZ have the faster boat, which he puts down to the more complex risks it took with the design of their AC75.

But with those design risks comes a much smaller margin for error.

"I think [Team NZ] have the faster boat because it's more extreme in every way," he notes.

"If you look at the boats, they're difficult to sail anyway, and Team NZ's boat is more extreme than Luna Rossa's boat, making it more difficult to sail.

"You could see the boat capsize in this regatta."