SailGP announces deal to host event in Lyttelton

The SailGP fleet will race in New Zealand in 2023. Photo: SailGP
The SailGP fleet will race in New Zealand in 2023. Photo: SailGP
Christchurch is set to benefit from SailGP's commitment to a four-year agreement to host a New Zealand stop in their world series.

The new agreement, beginning with a visit to Christchurch in early 2023, will see the stop alternate between Christchurch and Auckland in consecutive years, giving an opportunity for fans to get a first-hand look at the exciting high-speed racing.

"It's pretty awesome news for us; a major announcement to get a four-year deal bringing SailGP to Aotearoa New Zealand," New Zealand SailGP team co-chief executive and sailor Blair Tuke said.

"With the disappointment of having the season two Christchurch event cancelled, the team's been working really hard to get that back and to do it in a way now to have it locked in for four years ... it's just going to be great to encompass a wider audience right across New Zealand."

The tour was scheduled to stop in Christchurch in January 2022 as part of its circuit for season two, however the event had to be cancelled after the Government refused managed isolation and quarantine places to SailGP crews. About 170 places were sought for the eight racing nations, including New Zealand.

With Lyttelton Harbour getting first hosting rights and joining the calendar in 2023 for season three, Auckland will host the event in 2024, ensuring there is some live sailing for fans to enjoy on home waters with the location of the 2024 America's Cup regatta still unknown but likely heading abroad.

For the New Zealand team, having more than one regatta in a Kiwi-friendly time zone will do wonders for promoting the competition to the local audience.

"It has been a shame, or sort of a challenge for us as a team as we're starting to build the team up. SailGP is only in its second season, a lot of Kiwis don't know exactly what it is," Tuke said.

"It's awesome racing; a really cool style of sailboat racing – but when we've been racing in Europe, the majority of it has been around 3am, so it's pretty difficult to get engagement with the Kiwi public.

"Now that we've got that commitment and we know it's coming here for four years, that's an important boost for us as a team."

New Zealand fans will get the opportunity to see the Kiwi crew in action at a reasonable hour next weekend, with the penultimate leg of the series in Sydney. New Zealand goes into the event sitting fifth on the eight-team leaderboard with 36 points from six events.

The Sydney event will be the second time the women in the teams will sail onboard on race days, as part of the competition's women's pathways programme. Initially, due to Covid-19 difficulties and strict quarantines seeing the team sizes reduced, the women were not going to be sailing onboard in Sydney. However, Tuke confirmed that was no longer the case and, just as Erica Dawson did in Spain in October, Liv Mackay will be onboard in Sydney.

"It's a great initiative that SailGP have been working hard to do and I think we've seen some good steps forward this year with the women's pathway programme, but we need to continue to do that," Tuke said.

"Having both Erica and Liv with the team this year, they've been really key parts – especially Liv who has been at every event. It's going to be awesome to have her onboard for the races in Sydney."

 

 

 

 

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