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Spithill focused on task ahead

Oracle Team USA have returned to Bermuda after the final Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series event in Fukuoka, Japan last weekend.

As predicted, with so much at stake, including bonus points for 2017, the racing for the America's Cup event in Asia was intense and hard-fought.

In addition to the glory that comes with winning the event, the title of overall series champion was also up for grabs, as this was the final event of the two-year racing circuit.

And, perhaps more importantly, bonus points for next year's Louis Vuitton America's Cup Qualifiers were also on the line, with the overall winner getting two points, and the runner-up, one.

Oracle Team USA put up a spirited fight in trying to overhaul Land Rover BAR for top spot, but could not quite make it.

The final races on Sunday were a battle royale, with the American, British and New Zealand teams fighting for the final two point-scoring places.

Eventually, Land Rover BAR came out on top, while Oracle Team USA collected one point for their efforts.

Team New Zealand, along with the other teams, were shut out of the bonus points.

“We would have loved to have taken the two points,” Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, said. “But one thing we weren't going to let happen was to have Team New Zealand take a point with a second-place finish. So we ended up in a bit of match race with them at the end. And the boys did a great job to keep them behind us.”

At one point in the racing on Sunday, both BAR and Team New Zealand were pushing penalties onto Oracle Team USA, attempting to drive the team further down the rankings. However, each time, Spithill and his crew fought back.

“That's us just living the dream as the defender,” Spithill said. “But I'd like to congratulate BAR for winning the series. You get what you deserve in this game, and they sailed well.”

Spithill was also quick to credit the full Oracle Team USA team for their efforts over the past year.

“Our shore team and support crew and the guys on board have done a tremendous job over the last two years to make sure we had an opportunity to win it all, right down to the last day, and that's all you can ask for,” he said.

“I think it's a real tribute to them that we were in this position.”

With the Fukuoka event marking the conclusion of racing in the Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series, Oracle Team USA will now redouble its efforts in Bermuda, in preparation for racing next year.

“Now we move on to the serious end of the business,” Spithill said. “The America's Cup is what we have to focus on now.

“We've been doing a lot of work in Bermuda and some great testing with SoftBank Team Japan and Artemis Racing, and we've got an extensive development programme to go.

“Our shore team and engineering team and designers have been working away in Bermuda while we're in Japan, so we can put the hammer down again when we're back.”

It didn't take long. With most of the team arriving in Bermuda on Monday night or Tuesday, the team were out on the water, resuming their testing programme on Wednesday. No extended holidays for this team.

The racing in Fukuoka was the last time the teams will compete in the foiling AC45F catamarans. The next time the teams race — in May next year in Bermuda — they will be lining up in the America's Cup Class boats which each team is required to design and build.

And the AC45F boats will be shipped to Bermuda for a tune-up and a fresh look.

You'll see them out on the Great Sound again in the new year as they'll be used by up to 16 international youth teams — including Team BDA — in the Red Bull Youth America's Cup in 2017.

Close run thing: Oracle Team USA came within a whisker to beating Land Rover BAR to the overall title in Japan

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Published November 26, 2016 at 10:00 am (Updated November 26, 2016 at 12:24 am)

Spithill focused on task ahead

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