Luna Rossa gives Team NZ reality check in America's Cup opener

Auckland (AFP) –


Italy's Luna Rossa showed defending champion Team New Zealand that predictions of an America's Cup walkover were premature Wednesday, as the opening day of racing ended with honours even.

Team New Zealand easily won the first of two races contested in Auckland Wednesday, only for Luna Rossa, widely written off before the regatta, to bounce back and claim the second.

The Italian syndicate's co-helmsman Jimmy Spithill was jubilant at the 1-1 scoreline in the best-of-13 competition, saying he was eager for racing to resume on Friday.

"We followed our plan, kept it calm and the boat did the rest of the work," he said.

"It's great to be competitive. I can't wait mate, bring it on."

Team NZ's helmsman Peter Burling said the hosts made a poor start in the second race, blaming a lack of practice.

"We definitely looked a little bit rusty on that last one -- it's no secret we haven't raced for a little while," he said.

"One mistake and your life's pretty hard for the rest of the race."

Team New Zealand won the first race by 31 seconds before Luna Rossa held on to claim the second by seven seconds.