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America’s Cup World Series Fukuoka 2016 – Your Guide

The ninth stage of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series will come to Fukuoka Nov. 18-20 – the first America’s Cup race to be held in Asia. Three days of high intensity, action-packed racing will be staged off Jigyohama Beach, in one of the most prestigious sporting events the city has ever hosted. Read on to learn more about the America’s Cup and how you can see the action.

What is the America’s Cup?

© Matt Knighton

The America’s Cup began in 1851 – some 45 years before the modern Olympics – making it the world’s oldest international sporting event. Since that first race, teams have competed for the same silver trophy, colloquially known as the ‘Auld Mug’.

It is a multi-stage sailing competition which culminates every three to four years with a race between just two boats: the defending champion and a challenger. The America’s Cup trophy was last won in 2013, in a race between the Golden Gate Yacht Club (defender and eventual winner) and Emirates Team New Zealand (challenger and loser).

The current America’s Cup competition will finish with a series of races in Bermuda in June 2017. It will be a race between Oracle Team USA (the current defender – representing the Golden Gate Yacht Club) and a single challenger. The selection process for the challenger began in July 2015, with the first of the World Series races in Portsmouth, UK.

The Fukuoka Story


Each team is given the opportunity to host a World Series event in their home country. Fukuoka was chosen from amongst Japanese cities to host the race as one of Japan’s leading port cities, and the races will be an opportunity to show Fukuoka off on the global stage.

Soichiro Takashima, Fukuoka City Mayor, said of the races: “Fukuoka is aiming to be a leading city in Asia, so being able to host the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in Japan for the first time is truly wonderful.

What’s so exciting about the America’s Cup anyway?

The boats raced in the America’s Cup are the sailing equivalent of Formula 1 cars, employing the latest technologies to generate just one thing: speed. Each boat is a twin-hulled catamaran made special by  the aerofoils that are attached to each hull. As the boats approach full racing speed, the foils allow for the boats to lift out of the water.

At full speed, the racing becomes more akin to flying than your average potter-about in a dinghy, with nothing but the foils in contact with the water. The boats that are raced in the World Series can reach a maximum speed of 35 knots (40mph, 65 kph) and require five crew members to sail them effectively. It’s not impossible to capsize the boats, and crashes can be incredibly dramatic.

The America’s Cup World Series uses AC45f catamarans, a one-design wingsail catamaran with foils designed for the World Series by the Oracle Racing team. Each boat was built in the same boat yard in New Zealand and many of the boat’s components such as the wingsail, crossbeams (which hold the hulls together), spine, and the bowsprit (the pointy spike at the front that supports the forward sail) are manufacture controlled.

© Sander van der Borch / Artemis Racing

Stages of the America’s Cup

The America’s Cup is broken up into a series of stages:

Stage 1) The America’s Cup World Series (Global: July 2015 ~ Nov. 2016)
A series of pre-qualifying races for the America’s Cup, with a stage (or two) in each team’s home country. Eight stages have taken place so far and Fukuoka hosts the ninth and final stage. The top two teams at the end of the World Series enter the America’s Cup Qualifiers with bonus points: the winner takes two points, and second place one. These points are extremely valuable in the qualifying stages of the America’s Cup, which take place in Bermuda in early 2017.

Stage 2) The America’s Cup Qualifiers (Bermuda: May 26 – Jun. 5, 2017)
Following the conclusion of the Fukuoka races, the teams will head to Bermuda for the qualifiers. In this stage each competitor races every other competitor twice, scoring one point per win. The top four challengers go through to the next stage. The defending team automatically proceeds to the final stage. The lowest scoring team will be eliminated.

Stage 3) The America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs (Bermuda: Jun. 7 – 12, 2017)
The top four boats from the Qualifiers are split into two semi-finals. The winners of each of these semi-finals then race each other. The winner of this final is deemed to be the challenger and proceeds to the America’s Cup. Each series of races at this stage is a best of nine competition.

Stage 4) The America’s Cup Class (Bermuda: Jun. 17 – 27, 2017)
In which the defending team (Oracle Team USA) is pitted against the challenger in a best-of-13 series. The winner is awarded the America’s Cup.

The Teams

1) Team SoftBank Japan

Team Softbank Japan are the first Japanese entrants to the America’s Cup since the turn of the millennium. The team is led by the former America’s Cup winning skipper, Dean Barker (NZ), and a true veteran of Japanese sailing, Kazuhiko “Fuku” Sofuku. The team is currently ranked fourth in the World Series standings and finished in second place at the most recent stage in Toulon.

2) Team Landrover BAR (GBR)

Credit: Lloyd Images

Skippered by the gold-medal Olympian Ben Ainslie (UK), the team leads the World Series leaderboards and are current favourites to challenge Oracle Team USA in the final.

3) Oracle Team USA


The current defending champions after winning the 2013 edition of the America’s Cup. Their skipper is James Spithill (AUS), known for his aggressive racing style and witty one-liners in post-race interviews. Currently second in the World Series, Oracle are guaranteed a position in the final as defending champions.

4) Emirates Team New Zealand

NZL Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) - Action

Based in Auckland, New Zealand and skippered by the multiple multihull world champion Glenn Ashby (AUS), the New Zealand team arrived on the America’s Cup scene in spectacular fashion by winning their debut championship in 1995. The team were runners up in the 2013 America’s Cup, losing in spectacular fashion to Team USA 9-8 after an early 8-1 lead going into the 10th race.

5) Artemis Racing (SWE)

© Sander van der Borch / Artemis Racing

Artemis Racing represents the Royal Swedish Yacht Club and is skippered by Olympic gold-medalist Nathan Outteridge (AUS). Though currently fifth in the standings, Artemis won the most recent stage in Toulon.

6) Groupama Team France


Skipper Franck Cammas (FRA) has almost single-handedly turned his prodigious solo career into this fully formed America’s Cup team. While currently at the bottom of the World Series, the team has huge potential and has pulled off some impressive results over the last eight stages.

Current Standings
Going into the Fukuoka Stage the standings are:

1) Landrover BAR (GBR) – 437 points
2) Oracle Team USA – 423
3) Emirates Team New Zealand – 420
4) Softbank Team Japan – 399
5) Artemis Racing (SWE) – 391
6) Groupama Team France – 360

The World Series uses a high-point scoring system. The winner of each race scores 10 points, second place 9 points, third 8 points, etc. On Sunday, all point scoring is doubled: the winner receives 20 points, second place 18 points, third place 16 points.

The Schedule
11/18 (Fri.) – Practice events (not open to general public)

11/19 (Sat.)
10:30 Event Village Gates Open
11:30 Opening Ceremony & Dock-out show
12:00 Red Bull Air Show
12:30 Fly-by in front of Event Village
13:00-14:30 Races 1/2/3*
14:30 Fly-by along the beach at the end of racing
14:30 After Sail DJ
15:00 Posters signing/Stage Q&A
15:30 Grinding Competition – Event Village Activation Area
17:00 Event Village Closes

11/20 (Sun.)
10:30 Event Village Gates Open
11:30 Dock-out show
12:00 Red Bull Air Show
12:30 Fly-by in front of Event Village
13:00-14:30 Double Point Races 4/5/6*
14:30 Fly-by along the beach at the end of racing
15:00 Posters signing
15:30 Awards Ceremony
17:00 Event Village Closes
* Race times subject to change based on weather conditions.

Getting Involved: How To Watch

Watching Live
A variety of tickets for racing on Saturday and Sunday are available. Tickets allow access to the Sandy Beach Viewing Area. There is no reserved seating so arrive early to get the best viewing spots. The viewing area will have a huge high-res screen displaying live video feeds from the boats and helicopters filming the races.

2-Day Tickets
Sandy Beach Viewing Area ¥8,000 (incl. binoculars ¥12,000)
Reserved Photographer Area – ¥25,000 *Photographer area tickets sold out*

Saturday Tickets (Nov. 19)
Sandy Beach Viewing Area – ¥4,000 (incl. binoculars ¥8,000) *Binocular tickets sold out*

Sunday Tickets (Nov. 20)
Sandy Beach Viewing Area ¥5,000 – (incl. binoculars ¥9,000) *Binocular tickets sold out*

Ticket purchases:
0570-000-732 (Lawson Ticket, 10:00~20:00)

The Fukuoka America’s Cup will be broadcast via various news organisations worldwide. For instructions on where and how to watch the America’s Cup, head to their website.

Text by Oscar Boyd

Originally published in the Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn215, Nov. 2016)

Momochi / Nishijin
Published: Nov 17, 2016 / Last Updated: Jun 13, 2017

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