Fukuoka, Japan – 18-20 November 2016
Hakata Bay – the scene for the historic first-ever America’s Cup racing in Japan and the final stop on the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. The advantage in the finals in Bermuda 2017 is on the line.
Eight rounds, six countries, millions of spectators at the events and on TV, billions of words and views in newspapers, magazines and on websites, and it all comes down to Fukuoka, the ninth and final round of the 2015 / 2016 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.
At stake in Japan are a number of prizes.
Firstly, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series trophy, awarded twice before and ready to be handed over to the overall winner of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series. That team will also claim two points in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, the opening round of the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda, and a powerful incentive for all the teams who can win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series to push themselves beyond their limits to do so.
Those two points are basically two wins in the round robin Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers in the bag. In the round robin stage, each team races one another twice, so going into that with a two point advantage is a huge step towards the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs.
For ORACLE TEAM USA, who go straight from the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers into the America’s Cup Match, presented by Louis Vuitton, the incentive is huge to win those two points for the opening round of battle in 2017, or the one point on offer for second in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series.
Should a challenger win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers and advance to the America’s Cup match, it will be the defending champions who start one point down. Considering the last America’s Cup Match went down to the final race, that bonus point could be very significant.
Basically, it is win at all costs in Japan. Land Rover BAR are the leaders of the pack going into Japan, and they have a decent 14 point gap to ORACLE TEAM USA in second on 423 points, with Emirates Team New Zealand three points off the Americans on 420. All three teams have a good chance of winning the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, but, mathematically, so do SoftBank Team Japan, now lying in fourth on 399 points.
Behind them, Artemis Racing also have a mathematical chance of finishing the 2015 / 2016 season in style, but second place overall is the highest Nathan Outteridge and his crew can aim for. In sixth place on 360 points is Groupama Team France, but they also, as all the teams ahead of them do, have a very strong reason to win big in Japan. When the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers come to a close, the final results will be determined by the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series rankings, if there is a tie between teams. So, finish well in Fukuoka and that result could see a team through to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs, instead of going out in round one.
Champions – Land Rover BAR win the event and the World Series!
A stunning final day performance from Land Rover BAR took the ultimate round of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series (LVACWS) in Japan – and with the win they became 2015-2016 LVACWS Champions. They did it with a race to spare, creating a sufficient buffer that they could focus on winning the event in the final race.
A roller coaster day saw the team lock out the USA and New Zealand – the two closest overall opponents – at the start of the first race, only to watch them fly by on the run. Land Rover BAR recovered to a 4th but with the Kiwis and Americans in 2nd and 3rd it was still wide open.
The team kept supporters on their toes as they broke the line early in race two, with NZ and the USA clear leaders at the start gun. A stunning recovery on the first lap saw them back into the pack, and with an incredible final leg pass of the Americans, Land Rover BAR sealed the World Series win. A third in the final race meant the full champagne moment as Ben Ainslie and crew closed out the double with a win for the Fukuoka event.
It’s been an extraordinary season, with consistency the key. In nine events, the team have only been off the podium twice, recording four event wins (Portsmouth x 2, Oman and Fukuoka), bolstered by a second (Chicago) and two third places (Gothenburg and Toulon). The World Series win means that the team will take two vital bonus points into the next round of the competition, the America’s Cup Qualifiers, starting 26th May 2017 in Bermuda.
Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers & Challenger Playoffs *
Bermuda BER 26th May – 12th June 2017
Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Finals *
Bermuda BER 21-22nd June 2017
America’s Cup Match presented by Louis Vuitton *
Bermuda BER 17-18th & 24-27th June 2017
* All dates are confirmed but may be subject to change, depending on weatherconditions
Source: LVACWS Events Schedule