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Final jostling for LVACWS positions in Japan

Home, sweet home: SoftBank Team Japan have wait a while for this opportunity but finally the time has come for them to host a Louis Vuitton World Series event, the last one before the teams head to Bermuda for the 35th America’s Cup

There will be much at stake for all of the participating teams at the ninth and final stage of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, which gets under way today with official practice racing in Fukuoka, Japan.

The eventual winner will be awarded the series trophy, but, more importantly, will claim two precious points that they will carry into the Qualifiers next summer.

Those two points are essentially two victories 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 massive step towards the Challenger Play-offs for Land Rover BAR, Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing, Groupama Team France and hosts Softbank Team Japan.

As the defender of the “Auld Mug”, Oracle Team USA have automatically qualified for the 35th America’s Cup Match to be held in the Great Sound.

However, there is still a huge incentive for Jimmy Spithill and his Oracle colleagues to cash in on the points on offer, as doing so will give the defender a head start in the America’s Cup Qualifiers, which they will also be involved in.

Victory for Oracle in the Qualifiers would result in the defender taking a point advantage into the Match, but if the challenger has reached the final having also won the Qualifiers, the American outfit will start with a one-point deficit.

All of the teams will be looking to finish strongly in Fukuoka, as final results of the Qualifiers will be determined by the World Series rankings should there be a tie between teams.

Land Rover BAR, the British challenger, have a healthy 14-point advantage at the top of the World Series leaderboard heading in the series finale.

Sir Ben Ainslie, the skipper, said this week before heading to Japan: “The team are really proud of getting ourselves to the top of the fleet but we need to keep doing the same things we have been doing in those other events, keep that focus and not get too distracted about some of the teams coming up behind us.”

Oracle are second, followed closely by Emirates Team New Zealand in third.

The leading trio stand a good chance of winning the overall series, while fourth-placed SoftBank Team Japan cannot be ruled out mathematically.

Official racing commences tomorrow in Fukuoka and concludes on “Super Sunday” when points are doubled.

Bermuda hosted the World Series in October 2015, which was won by Artemis Racing, the Swedish challenger.