Sport & recreation  |  21 Jan 2021

The high-speed international sailing event, SailGP, is coming to Whakaraupō Lyttelton Harbour.

In a massive coup for Christchurch and for sailing in New Zealand, SailGP has announced that Christchurch will be a host city for the 2022 SailGP.

The racing will take place on Lyttelton Harbour on 29 and 30 January 2022 and will serve as the penultimate grand prix of the season before the grand final in San Francisco in March.

Currently contested between Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United States, SailGP involves teams racing against each other in F50 catamarans that can reach speeds in excess of 50 knots or 100 kilometres an hour.

The New Zealand team will  be led by reigning America's Cup and Olympic champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

“We are proud to represent New Zealand and there is nothing better than competing on home waters supported by our country’s sports fans, so we are stoked to bring the global event to Christchurch,'' Mr Burling says.

“We can’t wait to start racing in SailGP and sharing our Live Ocean conservation message along the way, which we know fans here in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world will get behind.”

SailGP Chief Executive Russell Coutts is excited the event will be held in his home country for the first time.

“Christchurch is one of New Zealand’s most exciting venues. 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,'' Mr Coutts says.

“Surrounded by the natural beauty of Lyttelton Harbour, we expect this event will draw keen and passionate spectators from across the country and Australia, provided the COVID-9 situation improves as we hope it will.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is a proud 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.”

In its first season the SailGP events delivered an average direct economic impact to host cities of $32 million and were broadcast to a total global audience of 256 million.

ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Destination and Attraction Loren Heaphy says SailGP represents a unique and unmissable opportunity for the city.

“This is an entirely different event to those we typically attract to Christchurch, and we jumped at the opportunity to bid to host SailGP. We are a city of sport and innovation, and SailGP combines these in a way only a handful of global sporting spectacles can,’’ Ms Heaphy says.

“Major events like these bring vibrancy to the city, they bring communities together, they attract visitors and they stimulate economic activity.’’

Manaia Rehu, chair of Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke, says they are honoured to have SailGP on Whakaraupō and to be representatives of Māori culture to a global audience.

“As kaitiaki, guardians of this beautiful place, we are pleased to welcome the world to our backyard,’’ Mr Rehu says.