Sailing Success

America’s Cup set to hit Asia as Japan ends 165-year wait

Editor’s Note:

Story highlights

Japan to host America's Cup series

Two-day event in Fukuoka in November

Japan has first team since 1999

CNN  — 

The America’s Cup is coming to Asia – for the first time in its 165-year history.

It was announced Thursday that Fukuoka, Japan, will welcome the World Series on November 18, with organizers hoping the two-day event will lure a brand new audience to the sport.

The series allows teams to pick up qualifying points ahead of next year’s Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger races in Bermuda, from which the winner takes on defending champion Oracle Team USA in the battle for the America’s Cup.

“This is an incredible opportunity to showcase this compelling sport to new audiences, not only in Japan but across all of Asia,” said Russell Coutts, CEO of the 35th America’s Cup and and a five-time winner of sailing’s premier competition.

Read: ‘Ditch digger’ lands dream America’s Cup job

“With the challenge from SoftBank Team Japan marking the return of Japan to the America’s Cup, enthusiasm is building for the sport in Asia,” the New Zealander added.

“The new, foiling, flying AC45 catamarans produce exciting, exhilarating racing and show our sport at its best. This is what we are bringing to Fukuoka.”

Backed by tech billionaire Masayoshi Son, it is the fourth Japanese team to compete for the America’s Cup, but the first since 1999.

Kazuhiko “Fuku” Sofuku, who was a bowman in the team 17 years ago, has returned to the fold as general manager and is hoping the competition will take off in Asia.

“As a Japanese sailor, it is extremely meaningful to be able to have the race in Japan,” he said.

“On behalf of SoftBank Team Japan, I know we’ll be putting all of our efforts into producing a great result.”

Read: How tea baron became ‘greatest of all losers’ in America’s Cup

With Japan to host the 2020 Olympics, Fukuoka will have the chance to show it can stage big sailing events.

“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,” the city’s mayor Soichiro Takashima said.

The series started in 2015, and next week goes to Chicago before visiting Portsmouth in the UK in July, Toulon in France in September, and then Fukuoka.

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03:08 - Source: CNN