BRITISH sailing's Ineos Team UK are hanging on to their dream of winning the America's Cup by their fingernails after notching up their first victory as the Prada Cup final resumed during the early hours of this morning (Saturday).

The team, led by Sir Ben Aislie, with fellow Isle of Wight man Leigh McMillan part of his crew, went into the sixth and seventh races 4-0 down against the Italians, Luna Rossa, with a mountain to climb.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ineos Team UK notched up their first victory in the Prada Cup final.Ineos Team UK notched up their first victory in the Prada Cup final.

After the enforced delay to the Prada Cup final this week due to coronavirus in New Zealand, the British team resumed knowing three more defeats and the America's Cup was over for them.

However, it could not have got off to a worse start — going 5-0 down in the first-to-seven-race series.

But Ainslie showed why he has won so many gold medals and other accolades during his career.

Isle of Wight County Press: Island sailors Sir Ben Ainslie, left, and Leigh McMillan, will be determined to cut the deficit to 5-3 as the Prada Cup resumes tomorrow (Sunday).Island sailors Sir Ben Ainslie, left, and Leigh McMillan, will be determined to cut the deficit to 5-3 as the Prada Cup resumes tomorrow (Sunday).

The sixth race was entralling — a superb advert for the sport — as Ineos notched up their first victory to keep them in the hunt. 

In light winds, Ineos read the course well and, after securing an eight-second lead at gate one, they held onto a favoured position.

Going into the final lap, with a 32-second advantage, it looked plain sailing for the British team, but a shift in the breeze and a drop in its strength created a nail-biting finish as the Italians continued to close the gap.

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

But Ainslie and his team sailed cleanly and did enough to be able to cross the finish line ahead of Luna Rossa for the first time in the final.

Afterwards, a relieved Ainslie said: "The team did a great job. They just don't give up. They are going to keep fighting all the way. We got one back. We needed it.

"I think it seems to be that on 13 knots and above, the boats are pretty even, but beneath that, we struggle. They know — and we know — that is the challenge.

Isle of Wight County Press: Action during the Prada Cup final in Auckland, New Zealand.Action during the Prada Cup final in Auckland, New Zealand.

"I can't say enough about the team. They have been great. When the wind dies down, it's a tricky situation. We were concerned we might be losing it there."

The series continues tomorrow (Sunday), with races seven and eight, with Ineos desperate to claw back the deficit in their bid to reach the 36th America's Cup against the New Zealand team next month.