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Bruni prevails in thriller final

Francesco Bruni (Luna Rossa) sailed his way into Argo Group Gold Cup history in Hamilton Harbour yesterday.

Bruni became the first Italian skipper to have his name inscribed on the prestigious King Edward VII Gold Cup after defeating Ben Ainslie (Ben Ainslie Racing Team) 3-2 in an enthralling final that went down to the wire.

The Italian won the first two duels convincingly.

But Ainslie, who knows a thing a two about comebacks, came roaring back to level the series at 2-2, winning the fourth match sailing the final leg with a ripped spinnaker.

With the pendulum swinging his way, and the home crowd firmly behind him, Ainslie seemed destined to claim a third Gold Cup heading into the fifth and final match.

But Bruni didn't panic.

The Italian grasped the upper hand after winning the battle behind the line for the favoured side of the race track during the pre-start and effectively clinched the regatta after rolling over Ainslie midway through the first beat.

Bruni slammed the door shut on his British rival, forcing him far to the left of the race track near the shoreline on starboard tack before tacking to port and surging into a commanding lead which he protected the rest of the way to pocket the $50,000 winner's purse.

“I'm very happy, we sailed a very solid week,” said Bruni, who lost only three matches during the regatta. “We sailed well all week and I'm very happy — I still can't believe it.”

Bruni placed himself firmly in the driver's seat after jumping out to a 2-0 lead and appeared well on course to clinch the title with matches to spare after winning the pre-start in the third match.

He opened up a comfortable lead on Ainslie heading to the top marker on the first beat. But Ainslie made up considerable ground and got the hook on Bruni who was red flagged for forcing his way around the top marker.

Bruni exonerated himself immediately, steering his bow across Ainslie's transom. But the damage had already been done and Ainslie went on to take the win to keep his hopes alive.

Bruni led across the start line in the fourth match but was stopped dead in his tracks after receiving a penalty for infringement on the first beat and lost further ground after bearing the brunt of wake from a passing ferry boat that ploughed across the race track.

Ainslie took full advantage and won the match convincingly to set up a winner-takes-all scenario.

“Everybody does mistakes and I done some stupid ones in race three and four,” said Bruni. “It was a tricky race course.”

Ainslie, who pocketed the $20,000 runners-up purse, said his rival thoroughly deserved the win.

“It was a great final and ultimately we were beaten by a better team,” he added. “Francesco and his guys did an amazing job; they started better and did a good job around the course.

“We tried very, very hard and kept it close. But ultimately there were the better team.”

Earlier, Taylor Canfield (USone Sailing) beat Adam Minoprio (Team Alpari FX ) 2-0 in the Petite Final to earn a $10,000 payday for finishing third.

• Milo Gill Taylor came from behind to win the RenaissanceRe Junior Gold.

The British sailor leapfrogged Max Quirk (Australia) on the final day of racing to win the regatta by a slim six-point margin.

Quirk finished second with Germany's Lukas Hesse rounding off the podium finishers.

Campbell Patton, who posted two bullets during the fleet racing event, finished seventh among the 49-boat fleet to top the local contingent followed by Adam Larson (14th) and Mike Wollmann (15th).

Francesco Bruni holds the Gold Cup aloft after his victory over Ben Ainslie in yesterday's final. (Photo by Charles Anderson)

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Published October 14, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 13, 2013 at 11:35 pm)

Bruni prevails in thriller final

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