Today was the chance for the Italians to redress the balance after a day in which they had lost two races after winning the starts and maintaining their advantage for the first few legs.
Emirates Team New Zealand entered cleanly across Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli who took their time to gybe around and head out to the right-hand side of the pre-start zone.
The start was even, both on starboard but a big big gap between the two as they charged out to the left-hand boundary at 30 knots.
A critical tack was coming – could Luna Rossa get up to the Kiwis and cast dirty air on them?
As the second beat continued the battle remained close but by the top at Gate 3 the Italians had protected their lead once again.
But there was trouble in store as the breeze shifted right, benefitting the Kiwis.
By the time the pair came back for Gate 5 Team New Zealand had taken the lead, rounding the left-hand mark ahead by 18 seconds.
One leg to the finish with a distance of 400 m between the pair, this was a big distance to make up for the Italians with so little runway left.As Emirates Team New Zealand came into the finish they had taken Race 9 by 29 seconds in the closing stages of the race.
A dramatic and closely fought race to place Emirates Team New Zealand within just one win to take the 36th America’s Cup.
Max Sirena, Skipper & Team Director:
"Possibly one of the best races we have seen in the last 15 years of the America's Cup. The guys did really well controlling at the start, we kept them behind for four legs without ever giving up. After all, we are in the final against a very strong team and I am very proud of the guys on the water and the whole team, because today they raced an amazing race. Obviously we are very disappointed with the outcome, but we are still alive and tomorrow we will go on the water to fight and we will give everything. It's not over yet."
Francesco Bruni, Helmsman:
"It's a hard one to digest. We raced flawlessly until they overtook us: we had to decide whether to defend the left or go right, and in hindsight it probably was the wrong choice. It was very hard to keep them behind, they definitely had an extra gear because whenever we tried to stretch our lead we couldn't shake them off and as soon as we gave them some space they just set off. We don't feel too much remorse because the race was conducted very well, but we don't plan to give up and we will continue to do what we need to do, analyzing where we can improve to get back on the water geared up to go win."
Vasco Vascotto, Afterguard:
"The race was really difficult with tricky wind conditions. I believe the boys raced incredibly well, and Team New Zealand was forced to adapt to our choices. We led the game, and gave a great show of match racing, not only at the start but also throughout the course. This is our mindset, and tomorrow we will keep on racing with this same attitude."
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