SailGP is coming to New Zealand, with Christchurch announced as the venue to host this country's first grand prix event in January 2022.
It is a significant coup for the south, with racing due to take place on Lyttelton Harbour on January 29-30, 2022.
It will be a chance for many to catch the likes of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who are co-chief executives of the New Zealand SailGP Team, in action on the high-octane F50 foiling catamarans. And there will be a considerable America's Cup flavour with Sir Ben Ainslie leading the British entry and Jimmy Spithill also helming the United States as they continue their rivalry with Burling and Tuke.
"Christchurch is one of New Zealand’s most exciting venues," SailGP chief executive Sir Russell Coutts said. "The positioning of the race course is quite similar to the layout of our event in San Francisco, which should provide spectacular viewing for our spectators.
"Surrounded by the natural beauty of Lyttelton Harbour, we expect this event will draw passionate spectators from across the country and Australia, provided the Covid-19 situation improves as we hope it will.
“Aotearoa New Zealand is a strong sailing nation and Ōtautahi Christchurch has a proud sporting heritage, so we expect Lyttelton Harbour will deliver fantastic conditions and a very warm welcome to all teams and visiting fans.”
Christchurch will be one of eight stops on the calendar for SailGP's second season. It's due to kick off in Bermuda in April, when New Zealand make their debut, and will also take in Taranto, Plymouth, Aarhus, Saint-Tropez, Cadiz and Christchurch before the grand final in San Francisco in March 2022. The winners of the series will pocket US$1 million.
SailGP’s second season will feature the series' inaugural champions Australia, along with crews from Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United States.
SailGP had a worldwide broadcast audience of 256 million across five events in its first season, a number which is expected to grow significantly with the increase to eight stops, and the local Christchurch economy is also likely to see a healthy injection. It will also help accelerate the redevelopment around the Naval Point Club Lyttelton.
- Photo: SailGP.