36th America’s Cup: Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team ‘relieved’ after first PRADA Cup semi-final wins

Francesco Bruni, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team’s co-helmsman, said his team felt a “big relief” after winning the first two races in the PRADA Cup semi-final on Friday.

Last weekend, the Italians missed out on going directly through to the PRADA Cup final after losing an intense race against INEOS TEAM UK.

The contest, which the Italians needed to win to force another race in the PRADA Cup Round Robins, saw the lead change nine times. It was a fierce battle of wills, but one that left Bruni and his sailing team ruing some costly errors out on the water.

A little less than a week on, after two cleaner and more consistent races against the American challengers, Bruni shared that the Italian team were feeling more positive about their work.

“It was a big relief for the team because we were coming from a period that was not great; the last races that we sailed, we lost,” he said. “We lost in a close combat, but we lost, and that’s never a good feeling.

“We knew that we could have won those races, but we didn’t put the points on the board. I think that it was a big relief for the team, knowing that we can do a lot better than we did last weekend.

“The race against the British was a little bit of an eye-opener and a good lesson,” Bruni added.

“It was a very close race where both teams made mistakes, so we analysed our mistakes and their mistakes, and we improved. We’ve done a lot better today.”

As is always the case with the America’s Cup, every day marks an opportunity to make developments to a team’s race boat. Bruni believes that 50 per cent of their improved performance could be attributed to the gains made there, and 50 per cent to the work of the sailing team.

“The boat is faster and it’s more stable, so it’s a better package. The team, as a whole team, have done a better job. We’re definitely stronger than last weekend.”

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With the PRADA Cup semi-final being a first to four points contest, if they replicate their clean sweep of victories, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli could wrap up the result on the second day of racing.

As you’d expect, Bruni is going into Saturday’s schedule focused purely on the process as opposed to the bigger picture.

“We are just going to play the best that we can, and approach it like it’s a new day. We shouldn’t think about points on the board; we have to sail cleanly, sail our best race and whatever comes, comes.”

Difficult return for PATRIOT

The fact that New York Yacht Club American Magic had enabled race boat PATRIOT to be on the start line was remarkable and nothing should take away from that.

On January 17, PATRIOT crashed, capsized and was nearly lost to the Auckland waters. It took a herculean effort to save her from sinking and that effort continued as the team worked night and day to re-build her.

Prior to the race day, PATRIOT had returned to the water and Terry Hutchinson, skipper and executive director, had hailed the work of all involved to restore her. He knew the effort that it took and thanked everyone for their commitment.

However, when it came to race day, Hutchinson addressed their losses as a true competitor would; he praised their opponent and pulled out the fact that he and his team need to improve.

PRADA Cup Semi-final – Race One

“You’ve got to give Luna Rossa credit for sailing two great races,” the skipper and executive director said.

“The conditions were hard, and I look forward to going back, watching the racing and seeing areas that we can improve and take on where we need to get better.

“Obviously, it’s hard because we’re there to race and what we did today was sub-standard, so we need to go out and race better. It’s as simple as that.

PRADA Cup Semi-final – Race Two

“Luna Rossa won both starts, they got away cleanly and from there, basically sailed in the manner that we’d talked about [doing].

“Once in the lead, we were not going to really worry about the other boat and look at the opportunities to extend. They did and from there, you’re left with the scraps. It’s frustrating.

“The amount of effort that has gone into getting the boat out onto the water [is enormous], so you feel a huge responsibility to everybody inside the shed to race the boat better than we did.

“We need to go back, analyse that and understand what that statement means, because it’s not just one thing. There are a lot of things that we can do better as a team.

“It would be a mistake to not recognise that we need to race better, and understand that. I don’t want to use what happened as an excuse, that was the card that we were dealt, so from here we just have push through and win four races.”

Watch every moment of the America’s Cup challenge, live on Sky Sports. Coverage continues with the PRADA Cup semi-finals at 2am on Sky Sports Mix, repeated again at 9am.

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