Sailors turn into sumos as America's Cup's final leg hits Japan
THEY may be sailing superstars but when it comes to sumo wrestling this team of elite sportsmen were like fish out of water.
Sailing aces from Land Rover BAR spent the day going head-to-head against professional sumo wrestlers in Japan.
It comes ahead of the squad’s final round of racing as part of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series on the island nation, which kicks off today.
Sumo wrestling is one of the world’s oldest sports, dating back to 794AD.
Wearing their official team colours, the sailors stepped into the ring at the sumo stable in Fukuoka to join wrestlers for a warm-up routine as they prepare for their own competition.
Giles Scott, tactician with Land Rover BAR, said he would never forget the experience, describing it as an ‘honour’.
‘I did not appreciate just how strong these guys are. It’s like running head on into a brick wall,’ he admitted.
‘The two sports are complete extremes, but the mental preparation and focus is very similar.
‘It was a unique and unforgettable experience to be allowed inside the inner sanctum of the sport.’
After 34 races across eight events in six different countries, there is now just one final round left with six more races to go in the Auld Mug tournament.
The three-day event in Japan begins today and will conclude on Sunday.
The overall winner of the world series will take two points into the next stage of the 35th America’s Cup, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers.
It comes off the back of a stunning second victory in Land Rover BAR’s home of Portsmouth earlier this year – something skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, hopes to repeat in the east.
Speaking ahead of the Japanese leg, Sir Ben said: ‘We have got a reasonable points gap, but we’re very much taking it like any other event.
‘That approach has worked for us so far, and I think we need to keep that going. We’ll have the same preparation and the same focus and not consider the overall points until we get to the final couple of races on the Sunday.
‘If we’re going to win, we’re going to have to sail well in Japan so we’ll just focus on doing that.’