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Chicago picked to host America’s Cup qualifying races in 2016

Lake Michigan will become the first America’s Cup freshwater venue in the race’s 165-year history.

Lake Michigan will become the first America’s Cup freshwater venue in the race’s 165-year history after Chicago was tapped to host the series’ qualifying races next June.

Two 25-minute races are scheduled for June 11-12, featuring teams from Sweden, Great Britain, New Zealand, Japan, France and the defending champions, Oracle Team USA. The course will start and finish off Navy Pier, with speedy catamarans following a path toward Northerly Island.

The city was bypassed to host the America’s Cup in 2017, but was approved as host of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series qualifying races in June because it had “the best probability of good winds,” event director Tod Williams told the Chicago Tribune.

The challengers are competing for a chance to take on Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup finals, a match race scheduled for June 2017 on the Great Sound of Bermuda.

Chicago had been vying to host the America's Cup finals, but was eliminated from consideration last summer, in part over concern that the Windy City wasn't quite windy enough. Local boosters are hoping the qualifying races will show Chicago is ready for the next main event, perhaps in 2021.

"This is the pinnacle of the sailing world," Reynolds said. "This is the next step for Chicago to earn the right to host an America's Cup final in the future."

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