Jimmy Spithill has evoked memories of San Francisco in 2013 to explain why there will be no complacency in the Luna Rossa camp, despite their formidable position in the Prada Cup final.
Two more impressive wins on Sunday left the Italians 4-0 up in the series and needing only three more victories from a possible nine races.
It’s getting close to mission impossible territory for Ineos Team UK, who have less and less margin for error, with mistakes on Sunday symptomatic of the pressure they are under.
But Spithill was part of the Cup’s greatest comeback – when Oracle retrieved a 8-1 deficit to beat Team New Zealand eight years ago – and says nothing has been decided yet.
“Given what I went through in the past… I’m the last person in the world to be counting my chickens,” said Spithill. “Ben [Ainslie] and I went through that together, so we know better than anyone.”
“It’s all about just one at a time. It doesn’t matter whether you are four up or four down, both these teams have the opportunity to win races because they are so evenly matched.”
“The past, the future doesn’t matter; the only thing that matters is the next race.”
Spithill’s co-helmsman Francesco Bruni had similar sentiments, pointing out there is little separating the two teams.
“It is a lot closer than the score line,” said Bruni. “We are not going to win every race… I’m sure of it. But we have to think race by race and stay focussed on the next one.”
But so far, parallels with 2013 aren’t immediately obvious.
Along with a decent smattering of lady luck, Oracle’s improbable revival was based on radical performance gains, which seem less likely here.
The boats seem evenly matched, though the Italians look slightly more efficient upwind.
But the main difference so far in the Prada Cup final has been the human factor; Luna Rossa have dominated the starts and look slicker with their crew work and transitions, while Ainslie’s men have lost the Midas touch that made them unbeatable in January.
The enforced break due to the Covid-19 lockdown in Auckland means the teams will have to recalibrate their schedules, with more time in sheds and no racing until at least Thursday.
“It’s an opportunity to do some changes that we have had on the list for a while but we haven’t really had the chance to do it,” said Spithill. “So we will push ahead with that.”
Spithill said the grinders would enjoy their break – after some gruelling races for the engine room on Sunday, with a large number of tacks and gybes. The next few days would also be a chance to review and analyse the series so far, pointing out some technical improvements they need to make.
Ineos Team UK skipper Ainslie remains optimistic, even though the British have yet to win a leg across four races.
“As soon as we get a bit of breeze, we have a pretty even boat race,” said Ainslie. “We just need to up our game and do the boat proud.
“It’s very subtle between success and failure, it’s split second and not much in it. We need to make sure that we keep going through our processes but start getting it right when it counts.”
He suggested the unexpected Covid-19 pause may have come at a good time for the British.
“It probably favours us,” said Ainslie. “We have to break that momentum. In sport momentum is pretty powerful and it has been with the Italians. We have to turn that around; we need to regroup and come back stronger.”
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