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Published: Wednesday, 16 November 2016

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.

Louis Vuitton Americas Cup World Series Heads To Japan 2

(Photos: ACEA 2016)

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.

Louis Vuitton Americas Cup World Series Heads To Japan 1

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. 

Win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers and the Defenders take a point advantage into the head-to-head final – the team they will face will start with a one point deficit should Oracle Team USA win the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, so it will still be first to seven to win the America’s Cup, but for the Challenger, should Oracle Team USA prevail in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, it will be from a starting place of minus one point.

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.

Louis Vuitton Americas Cup World Series Heads To Japan

Basically, it is win at all costs in Japan. Land Rover BAR is the leader of the pack going into Japan, and it has 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. The Japanese team needs the teams ahead to suffer on the waters of Japan, but with a mathematical chance to fight for, there is still reason to hope for Dean Barker and his crew.

Behind them, Artemis Racing also has 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 it also, as all the teams ahead of them do, has 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. The result of Fukuoka could see a team through to the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs, instead of going out in round one.

www.americascup.com