After 34 races in six different countries, there’s just one final round and six more races to go in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) from 18-20 November – Land Rover BAR is competing in Fukuoka, Japan with plenty at stake.
Before the finale got underway the team were honoured to experience Japanese sporting culture, with a visit to the local Sumo Stables arranged by Technical Innovation Partner, Land Rover. Sumo is the most traditional sport in Japan and is one of the oldest sports in the world, dating back to AD 794.
The overall winner of the ACWS will take two points into the next stage of the 35th America’s Cup, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers. It’s the equivalent of two wins – a 20% bonus on the remaining available points in the double round robin, beginning in Bermuda on 26 May 2017.
Land Rover BAR hold a 14 point lead in the overall ACWS after a remarkable performance that began with a home town win in Portsmouth way back in July 2015. A third place followed in Gothenburg, and fourth in Bermuda before another win in Oman at the start of the 2016 season. Since then, the team have racked up second in Chicago, another win in Portsmouth and a third place in Toulon.
Ahead of racing, Sir Ben Ainslie, skipper and team principal said, “It looks like a good race course with predominantly lighter winds. It’s great for the America’s Cup to be going to Asia and for Japan to be hosting the final event in the series.
“We have got a reasonable points gap, but we’re very much taking it like any other event.
“That approach has worked for us so far, and I think we need to keep that going. We’ll have the same preparation and the same focus and not consider the overall points until we get to the final couple of races on Sunday.
“If we’re going to win, we’re going to have to sail well in Japan, so we’ll just focus on doing that.”
Japanese teams have contested three successive Cups from 1992 to 2000, but the nation has never seen racing on its shores before.
The venue, Fukuoka, is the most populous city on Kyushu Island, situated on the northern shore and famous for the ancient 17th-century Fukuoka Castle.
SoftBank Team Japan recently announced on their Facebook page: “A win for SoftBank Team Japan in the first official practice race on Hakata Bay! The team is ready to do battle tomorrow in front of our hometown crowd!”
The leaderboard after Toulon: Land Rover BAR (437), ORACLE TEAM USA (423), Emirates Team New Zealand (420), Artemis Racing (399), Groupama Team France (360).
All the action can be watched live on BT Sport in the UK and Ireland with Saturday and Sunday’s racing coverage beginning at 4am.