(Reuters) - Luna Rossa helmsman Jimmy Spithill was encouraged by the Italian team's dominant display against American Magic in the Challenger Series semi-finals but said they would need to make further improvements ahead of next month's showdown with INEOS Team UK.
Luna Rossa stormed into the final of the Challenger Series after completing a 4-0 sweep of the American team and will take on Ben Ainslie's INEOS Team UK to determine who will face defenders Team New Zealand (TNZ) for the America's Cup.
"We definitely made an improvement in performance, but it's not enough," Spithill told the Herald. "We're going to need more and that's the name of the game.
"We will be putting a lot of blood, sweat and tears to really improve in terms of the way we're sailing and our technique.
"We've got a lot of upgrades planned... There are so many things to do, and you need to balance time in the shed with time on the water."
The British team won a tight round-robin race against Luna Rossa to qualify directly for the Challenger Series final, but Spithill is confident of securing a different outcome this time around.
"The British have been out there working hard. But we are fortunate enough to be racing and I believe we needed this semi-final series," he was quoted as saying by New Zealand's Stuff media.
"We know there is a lot more on the table, and we will be doing everything we can to come out and get some payback on the Poms."
The winner of the series that ends on Feb. 22 will take on holders TNZ in a series of head-to-head races from March 6 for the America's Cup, known as the "Auld Mug."
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)