America’s Cup 2021: Media reaction – Team New Zealand ‘masterful’ as Luna Rossa face the impossible

The world media reacts to the sixth day of the 36th America’s Cup where Team New Zealand came from behind in the only race against Luna Rossa and take a 6-3 lead.

“Luna Rossa now has to cling to everything, even historical precedents,” Stefano Villa of Italian publication, OA Sport wrote.

“The Italian crew has returned from two unlucky days, where a wind shift and an imperfect reading of the race course allowed Team New Zealand to extend the series.”

“We must also cling to what James Spithill did in the past. The Australian, current co-helmsman of Luna Rossa together with Francesco Bruni, was the protagonist of the biggest comeback in the history of the America’s Cup,” Villa said referencing the famous Oracle Team USA comeback from 8-1 down in the 2013 regatta led by Spithill.

Fellow OA Sport writer Federico Militello made the case that even if Luna Rossa picked the pivotal wind shift on the second to last leg in race nine, there is doubts they would have had the speed to hold off a faster Team New Zealand boat.

“And it would be wrong to attribute the defeat to a wrong tactical choice: are we really sure that, while following the New Zealanders towards the right side of the field during the last beat, the Italians would have then brought home the regatta?

“It is now established that the Defenders have the best boat. Yet they weren’t (or aren’t…) unbeatable. Today the Italian fleet cannot have regrets, however we cannot forget the many, too many opportunities wasted in recent days.”

“In the presence of a stronger boat, absolute perfection would have been needed to bring the company home. And Luna Rossa was perfect only at times. But he still has a little hope to try to be. Do you believe in miracles?”

Magnus Wheatley of the Rule 69 sailing blog said had you to feel sorry for the Italians who he still gives a chance of coming back.

“Call the cops. Get forensics on the scene. Send in the flying squad. Because there’s a ruthless gang of pick-pockets operating in Auckland right now targeting foreigners, as they have been all summer, and this time they’re focusing on the Australian and Italian communities,” he wrote.

“The manner of victory was crushing. Like a relentless Russian Chess Grandmaster playing Deep Blue to retain humanity’s upper-hand against technology, it was pure sailing brilliance that won the day. Luck? No. It was a masterful set up from a mile back by a team wearing the weight of expectation of an entire nation on their shoulders with such easy charm. Team New Zealand were a class apart, capable of pulling off the impossible against a tenacious Luna Rossa that brought everything to the table.”

“We’ve been here before though and everyone knows how hard the Italians, with Houdini himself on the helm, will fight but against a boat with such devastating boatspeed, it’s a tough ask….impossible is looking improbable now for Luna Rossa.”

Toby Heppell of Yachting World said only perfection in every race now will see Luna Rossa fight back.

“Luna Rossa will need to sail perfect races to prevent the Kiwis winning this America’s Cup contest – and they will need to do so for the next four races if they want to win it themselves.”

“The Italians must come out and deliver that perfection if they want to beat this kiwi team, and then they must do it again, and again, and again, and again to win the Cup.

“It’s a tall order and a successful defence of the America’s Cup is starting to look a little bit more a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’ for New Zealand. But we have been in this position before and it would be foolish to start engraving the trophy just yet. Spithill and Bruni showed today they can still win if they get everything right but there is now no room for error.”

Under the headline ‘Pit bull’ Spithill mellow with America’s Cup poised’, Steve McMorran of the Associated Press said the usually feisty Jimmy Spithill was a model of sportsmanship and diplomacy after defeat yesterday.

“The years must have mellowed Jimmy Spithill,” he wrote.

“The usually feisty Australian sailor, master of the psychological ploy and the trash-talking style Aussies refer to as “sledging,” was a model of sportsmanship and diplomacy Tuesday after the ninth race of the America’s Cup match in Auckland.”

“Spithill, known as pit bull for his tenacity, is co-helmsman of the Italian boat and the circumstances after race nine were custom made for one of his gambits to place all pressure on his opponent.

“In 2013, Spithill helmed the Oracle Team USA catamaran that trailed Team New Zealand 8-1 in a best-of-17 race series in San Francisco. In the news conference after New Zealand had reached match point, Spithill famously highlighted what an upset it would be if Team New Zealand lost from such a commanding position.

“Having planted the seed of doubt in the Kiwis’ minds, he went on to win the next eight races to retain the America’s Cup 9-8 in one of the greatest comebacks in professional sports.

“There was interest Tuesday in seeing whether Spithill again would attempt to sew uncertainty in the minds of the Team New Zealand crew. Instead, he was magnanimous and reflective.

“He opened a news conference with effusive praise for Team New Zealand. He made no effort to try and find fault.”

Heading into the Cup racing?

• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.

• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It’s the best way to ride.

• Don’t forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America’s Cup Village.

• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.

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