Luna Rossa see tighter racing ahead at America's Cup

Sailing - 36th America's Cup - Waitemata Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand - March 10, 2021 Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in action during Race 2 of the America's Cup REUTERS/Simon Watts

(Reuters) - Getting a jump at the start proved decisive in the opening races of the 36th America's Cup but Friday's second day of action could see more see-sawing battles between Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa.

Each team claimed a win on Wednesday, capitalising on a mistake by their opponent before the start of each race and then holding the lead to the finish.

Lighter, patchier winds could mean more engagement for the boats at a more sheltered course in the Rangitoto Channel off Auckland.

"What’s happened lately, the last six-eight races, is we’ve sailed in pretty stable breezes," said Luna Rossa co-helmsman Francesco Bruni, who guided the Italian challengers to a 7-1 win over Team UK in the leadup Prada Cup.

“But once the breeze is more shifty or patchier we will see more passes."

Both teams spent the rest day on Thursday reviewing data from the opening races, which promised the battle for the 'Auld Mug' could go down to the wire.

TNZ looked to have the edge on speed after day one but nowhere near as much as had been rumoured.

"There was a lot of talk about Team New Zealand being 5-8-10 knots faster, and that was clearly not the case today. We are glad we can just race and try to win this," said Bruni.

TNZ skipper Peter Burling conceded his team had not been at their best in their first races after some three months, but he was buoyed by their pace after they stormed home in the final leg of the second race to fall just seven seconds short of the challengers.

"There’s so many small details on these boats which you need to get right, to get around the track in good shape,” Burling told New Zealand's Stuff media.

"None of us really knew how quick we were going to go, and now we only really know in one condition, how quick each of these boats are."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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