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Ainslie may look to scratch Sunday race if Challenger Series final spot secured

·2-min read
British Olympic sailor Ainslie, listens during a news conference to announce the launch of a British America's Cup sailing team in London, Britain

(Reuters) - INEOS Team UK skipper Ben Ainslie said he will have to decide whether to take on Luna Rossa again on Sunday or propose the race be scratched if they have already secured a spot in the Challenger Series final by beating the Italians a day earlier.

INEOS have four victories from four starts after the opening weekend and a victory over Luna Rossa on Saturday would earn them a spot in the final, which determines who meets America's Cup defenders Team New Zealand (TNZ).

The British challengers were only scheduled to face the Italian team, who have two points, on Saturday but the schedule was revised with American Magic repairing damage to their boat and unable to compete.

"It's a trade-off. You would have three weeks without any intense racing. You trade that off against development gains," Ainslie told reporters.

"We have been on a massive rate of improvement and there's still a lot to do to make the boat go faster."

Both teams would have to agree to skip Sunday's race if the result has no impact on the final placings and Francesco Bruni, who co-helms Luna Rossa alongside Jimmy Spithill, said they did not yet know what they would decide.

"I cannot promise (we would race) but for sure it's an opportunity," Bruni, whose team can reach the final if they win both races, said.

Spithill added: "There's an incentive for both teams to win - if we do that we race on Sunday so there is a lot on the line, and that's a great test for the two of us."

The second and third-placed teams in the Challenger Series face off for a place in the final. The winner of the series will go on to face defenders TNZ from March 6.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)