DEFIANT Ineos Team UK skipper Sir Ben Ainslie has vowed not to give up Britain's ambition to lift the America's Cup after sinking to a heavy defeat in the Prada Cup final this morning (Sunday).

In the best of 13 race final, it only took eight races to see the British outfit's experienced Italian rivals, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, book their place in the 36th America's Cup against holders, Emirates Team New Zealand, on March 6.

Ineos went into today's races 5-1 down — notching up their only success yesterday (Saturday) after almost a week of lockdown in Auckland.

Isle of Wight County Press: Prada cup final action between Ineos Team UK and Luna Rossa.Prada cup final action between Ineos Team UK and Luna Rossa.

But Luna Rossa proved to be worthy winners — taking both races for a deserved 7-1 victory.

Ahead of racing today, Ineos were boosted by their first race win, but conditions on the water in Auckland were not favourable for them — lighter, 12-knot winds.

After making a positive start in the opening race (race seven), the more agile Italians eventually won it by a 54-second margin.

Isle of Wight County Press: Sir ben Ainslie, left, and Ineos Team UK crewmate and fellow Islander, Leigh McMillan.Sir ben Ainslie, left, and Ineos Team UK crewmate and fellow Islander, Leigh McMillan.

In the second race of the day, Ainslie and Giles Scott performed a strong pre-start and gave their team the edge going over the line.

However, with the conditions still favouring the Italians, they were able to restore their hold over Ineos and sail a clean race to take Prada Cup in style — by a gap of 56 seconds. 

Ainslie praised his team's resilience to 'go down fighting' in the final and said the ambition to win the America's Cup remains.

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The Olympic champion, of Seaview, was gracious in defeat — praising the Italians' achievement.

"My initial thoughts are congratulations to Luna Rossa. They sailed brilliantly and had the best package over the range of conditions — and they deserved to win," said Ainslie.

"We're obviously disappointed. We fought tooth and nail and we went down fighting — even in that last race.

Isle of Wight County Press: Sir Ben Ainslie.Sir Ben Ainslie.

"I couldn't be prouder of the team in the way they've dealt with the challenges over these past three or four years with this campaign — and in the World Series, when we turned things around after the Christmas race.

"Ultimately, we weren't quick enough across the range of conditions — and that's where you need to be if you're going to win the America's Cup.

"It's been a tough campaign the whole way through, for a number of different reasons.

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"I guess dealing with a new class of boat and all of the challenges that brings, it has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

"I can't thank the team enough because of the way they've just stuck to the task.

"Every person in the organisation worked incredibly hard to turn this boat around and get us into the Prada Cup Final. You need a strong team and I'm really proud of them."

The immediate question for Ainslie is whether or not he will be back for more.

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From a young age, Britain's most successful Olympic sailor has held the America's Cup in the highest regard and his ambition to ensure that the 'Auld Mug' finally in British hands again remains as strong as ever.

"I started this team back in 2014 with the goal to bring the America's Cup back to Britain and, as far as I'm concerned, until I get the job done, it's not over, so we've got to keep going."

The team includes fellow Islander, Leigh McMillan.

"There's a lot to learn from these campaigns. You look at Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand. They've been in the cup game now for 20 and 30 years respectively.

"While the people may change over the years, it's that learning and development that's key. I think we've got to keep on going and get the job done."