(Reuters) – Italy’s Luna Rossa dominated the opening day of the Challenger Series final as they opened up a 2-0 lead over INEOS Team UK at Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour on Saturday.
The first race was effectively settled over the starting line as INEOS coughed up an early 600m advantage that the Italians never looked like giving up.
Ben Ainslie’s INEOS also collected penalties for entering the start box too early and then for crossing the boundary. Luna Rossa, who crushed American Magic 4-0 in the semi-final, coasted to victory by one minute and 52 seconds.
Both teams made a solid start in the second race before Luna Rossa opened up a small advantage through the first gate. The Italians maintained their slender lead throughout the race before crossing the line 26 seconds clear.
The best-of-13 Challenger Series final ends on Feb. 22 with the winners taking on Team New Zealand from March 6 for the America’s Cup.
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