THE British entry's chances of a first America's Cup success in 170 years may have been sunk after their Italian rivals went 4-0 up in the Prada Cup final this morning (Sunday).

Reeling from losing the opening two races against Luna Rossa in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday (Saturday), Ineos Team UK — led by Sir Ben Ainslie — still had belief they could launch an immediate fightback in the best-of-13 races contest.

However, the Italians pounced on the British team's mistakes to secure both races on the second day and put them in the driving seat for the America's Cup against New Zealand.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ineos Team UK, helmed by Sir Ben Ainslie, have a mountain to climb if they are to book their place in the America's Cup race.Ineos Team UK, helmed by Sir Ben Ainslie, have a mountain to climb if they are to book their place in the America's Cup race.

Despite the huge setback of going 4-0 down to the Italians, Ineos have a chance to regroup after Wednesday's planned racing was paused after Auckland went into a 72-hour Covid lockdown. 

The British will be hoping this has an effect on their rivals' momentum going into the next race.

But Ineos have a lot to think about after this weekend's racing and their disappointing results.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ineos Team UK in action.Ineos Team UK in action.

Today's 16-20 knots conditions saw both boats look even on performance, following lighter winds yesterday, so two tense and close races were expected.

Yesterday, Ainslie said his team needed to 'really get stuck in' — taking more risks and push hard to claw back the deficit.

The importance of getting the pre-start right, like yesterday's races, once again proved pivotal in today's opening race.

The pre-start is vital — a two-minute period in which both teams tussle for the best position possible and route over the start line when the clock reaches zero.

Isle of Wight County Press: Sir Ben Ainslie and Islander, Leigh McMillan, will need to pull out all the stops to get back into this Prada Cup final.Sir Ben Ainslie and Islander, Leigh McMillan, will need to pull out all the stops to get back into this Prada Cup final.

The Italians edged over the start line first and developed a nine-second lead at the top mark.

"We made a mess of the start. We just got a bit greedy going for the hook, as we thought it was on for a split second," explained Ainslie.

"In these match race starts, you can go from hero to zero pretty quickly. We got that one wrong, but after that, we sailed a good race."

A classic match race followed as two exceptional race boats and teams showed exactly what they were made of.

Isle of Wight County Press: Two great starts for the Italians helped them to two great wins this morning (Sunday). Two great starts for the Italians helped them to two great wins this morning (Sunday).

The grinders on both teams were working flat out to provide maximum power and the wealth of manoeuvres showed off these incredible AC75s at their best.

A margin between the two remained, though, and over the course of the six legs, Luna Rossa protected their favoured side of the course well and sailed with the fluidity they had showed during yesterday's racing to win by 13 seconds.

In the second race, Ineos went for it during the pre-start, but again, their execution let them down as they tried an aggressive move to pressure the Italians.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ineos Team UK in action.Ineos Team UK in action.

Luna Rossa turned hard and fast, which caused Britannia to dramatically lift high up out of the water and splash down, which resulted in the British losing speed and momentum, while the Italians kept their foot to the floor and raced towards the start line.

Once racing, the difference in boat speed was minimal, but after their solid start, the Italians ultimately came away with a 41-second victory.

"It was a tough day. We're not happy with the way we handled it," said Ainslie.

Isle of Wight County Press: Gold medal winning Island sailor Sir Ben Ainslie.Gold medal winning Island sailor Sir Ben Ainslie.

"We can sail a hell of a lot better than that — and we'll need to.

"We gave two races to those guys and to their credit, they sailed really well and didn't give us a chance to get back into it.

"At this level you can't afford to make any mistakes and we made too many, so we need to regroup ands get our act together for the next race and come out swinging."