(Reuters) - Luna Rossa stormed into the final of the Challenger Series after completing a 4-0 sweep of American Magic in the best-of-seven repechage semi-final in Auckland on Saturday.
The Italian team will take on Ben Ainslie's INEOS Team UK to determine who will face defenders Team New Zealand (TNZ) for the America's Cup.
American Magic, who struggled in Friday's first two races in breezy conditions, put up a much-improved display in the third race in lighter winds, but failed to truly test Luna Rossa, who crossed the finish line 35 seconds ahead.
The American team's "Patriot" yacht - patched up after sustaining damage after it capsized during a round robin race - then experienced several techinal problems in the fourth race and limped to the finish line three minutes and 51 seconds behind the Italian team.
"I'm very proud of the team...we made some huge steps forward. The whole team is on another level," Luna Rossa helmsman Francesco Bruni said.
"We demonstrated once again we are strong on the starting line...unfortunately the Americans had some problems, their boat wasn't functioning well, I feel very sorry for them."
"I think we will see some good racing in the final against INEOS.
American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson said he was disappointed with the result but hailed his team's determination.
"These are incredible boats...the highest praise for the AM team for overcoming what we did to get the boat back on the water. It would have been easy to stop," Hutchinson said.
The winners of the Challenger Series, which ends on Feb. 22, will take on TNZ from March 6 for the America's Cup.
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)