America’s Cup qualifying races planned for Chicago | WBEZ
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America's Cup qualifying races planned for Chicago

Next summer, Chicago will host the qualifying races of the America’s Cup, the world’s most prestigious sailing race.

In June 2016, America’s Cup catamarans will cut through the waters of Lake Michigan at more than 50 miles an hour. A half-dozen teams will race for a chance to line up against defending champions Oracle Team USA in the 35th America's Cup race, set for 2017 in Bermuda.

Russell Coutts says it will be a unique event. He’s won the America’s Cup five times.

“For a lot of sports events, they may show a stadium,” says Koots. “But that stadium could be anywhere in the world. This is going to have these boats racing at high speed, on the water, right in front of the city backdrop, which is kind of an iconic backdrop.”

“Boats that are going over 50 miles an hour in the water is unreal,” says Matt Cassidy, a sailor on Oracle Team USA. “No one’s ever seen anything like that, so if the public can come down and see it, it’ll really open their eyes to how great sailing really is.”

Races will be held off Navy Pier over two days, June 11-12. The pier will be setting up viewing areas, most of which will be free.

It’s the first time in the 164-year history of the America’s Cup it will be raced in fresh water. Organizers hope this test run can show that Chicago is capable of hosting the premier event in the America’s Cup. The city made an unsuccessful bid last year to hold the championship event.

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