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SailGP makes long-term commitment to racing in New Zealand

by James Rigby 7 Dec 2021 13:07 GMT 8 December 2021
The fleet in action on Race Day 1 at Spain SailGP, Event 6, Season 2 in Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain © Bob Martin/SailGP

SailGP and New Zealand Major Events have secured a four-year deal to bring adrenaline-filled racing to New Zealand shores.

With support from the Major Events Fund, ChristchurchNZ and Auckland Unlimited, SailGP will host four world-class sailing events in New Zealand from 2023 - 2026, encompassing seasons three to six. The first New Zealand Sail Grand Prix will take place in Christchurch in 2023, before alternating between Auckland and Christchurch in subsequent seasons.

The exciting announcement comes after the inaugural event scheduled for January 2022 in Christchurch was forced to be cancelled due to COVID-19.

SailGP Commercial Director and Head of Event Karl Budge said: “It has been fantastic working with New Zealand Major Events, ChristchurchNZ and Auckland Unlimited to bring SailGP to New Zealand. While we were incredibly disappointed to be forced to cancel this season’s event in Christchurch, everyone was determined to ensure we wouldn’t miss out on future seasons and to establish a long-term future for SailGP in New Zealand.

“New Zealand is a key market for SailGP and the New Zealand SailGP Team boasts some of the best athletes in the world. This long-term commitment across different cities gives us a fantastic platform to engage with a wide number of New Zealanders and showcase exciting, inner-harbour racing.”

As a regular fixture on the sporting calendar from 2023, not only will Kiwis get to enjoy more of the sport they love, they’ll also witness local sailing legends in action. SailGP Season 3 marks the first time the New Zealand SailGP Team will be competing on home waters, headed up by the highly-decorated duo, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

New Zealand SailGP Team co-CEO Peter Burling said: “There’s been a huge amount of hard work that’s gone on behind the scenes to bring SailGP to Aotearoa so we’re incredibly excited to get the opportunity to race on home waters. We’ve always had fantastic support from Kiwi fans, so bringing this exciting format of racing to both Christchurch and Auckland will be awesome.”

The New Zealand SailGP Team races with purpose, supporting its Race for the Future charity partner Live Ocean, the marine conservation organisation founded by Burling and Tuke. At the heart of the team is the mission of racing for a healthy ocean.

New Zealand SailGP Team co-CEO Blair Tuke said: “The team has really enjoyed stepping up as ocean champions as we’ve travelled around the world for SailGP Season 2. These events at home in Aotearoa will be a fantastic opportunity to share the important message of ocean restoration and protection with Kiwis.”

While fans will be excited by the multi-city offering, the long-term commitment is expected to generate many other positive benefits for New Zealand’s economy and environment. Local events will help stimulate regional tourism, while the partnership will support SailGP’s sustainability ambitions and intention to boost the popularity and participation in sailing for all New Zealanders.

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said he was delighted to confirm an investment offer from the MBIE Major Events Fund: “The race series will bring significant economic benefits for New Zealand, and opportunities to celebrate our unique culture on the global stage.

“The stunning Whakaraupo Lyttelton Harbour in Otautahi Christchurch and the Hauraki Gulf in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland will allow us to showcase the racing up-close, and the events are also a brilliant opportunity to support our tourism industry.

“SailGP has a strong environmental focus and its emphasis on diversity and inclusivity through its Women's Pathway Program align strongly with Government priorities. We now look forward to working with organisers to finalise the contractual arrangements to bring these events to life.”

Today’s announcement coincides with the release of SailGP’s Season 3 calendar. The future has never looked brighter for SailGP as it expands both its competitive roster and enviable list of global event locations, whilst returning to some fan-favourite destinations that attracted thousands of fans in Season 2.

Once again bringing the sport’s best roster of athletes together, the global championship welcomes two new franchise teams for its third season, with Canada and Switzerland set to expand SailGP’s reach to new audiences. They join teams from Australia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the United States.

SailGP Season 3 has been expanded to include ten events, with seven grands prix taking place in 2022 and the remainder in the first quarter of 2023, with the season expected to finish in April. The championship kicks off for the second straight year in Bermuda with the Bermuda Sail Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess. From there, the ten-nation fleet will head to a new SailGP destination in North America and include a home race for Jimmy Spithill’s U.S. team at Navy Pier in Chicago on Lake Michigan in June. Both Bermuda and Chicago are two-year agreements that will see the league return in Season 4.

The fleet will arrive in Europe for the summer with four European events planned. Following successful events in Season 2, SailGP will return to Plymouth – Britain’s Ocean City – in late July, the iconic French destination of Saint-Tropez in September and then later the same month Cádiz, in Andalucía, Spain. In addition, the fleet of hydrofoiling F50s will revisit Denmark, but this time, the capital city of Copenhagen will host the ROCKWOOL Denmark Sail Grand Prix. Racing for 2022 will conclude with another new addition to the calendar as SailGP hosts its first Middle Eastern event in Dubai, UAE presented by P&O Marinas on November 11-12.

All the Season 3 action will be available live in over 175 territories through SailGP’s broadcast partners, including New Zealand (Sky Sport), Australia (Fox Sports), Denmark (TV2 Sport), France (Canal+ Sport), Japan (J Sports), South East Asia (beIN SPORTS), Spain (RTVE and TV3), UK/Ireland (SKY Sports) and the U.S. and Canada (CBS Sports) as well as across SailGP digital platforms including You Tube, Facebook Live and the award winning SailGP App.

SailGP CEO Sir Russell Coutts said: “When Larry Ellison and I came up with the concept for SailGP, we envisaged a league with the best athletes in the world, racing in equal high-tech boats that are extremely fast, creating exciting, close to shore action, and with a regular season for our fans to truly engage with the sport globally. We set ourselves a five-year goal, but to sit here in Season 3 with ten teams on the start line – including two new franchised teams – an expanded season calendar, an impressive collection of commercial and broadcast partners, purpose and impact at our heart with a positive environmental impact and an immersive fan experience through our broadcast and gaming offer – I simply couldn’t be happier with what has already been achieved.”

Season 2 of SailGP continues with the Australia Sail Grand Prix presented by KPMG in Sydney on December 17 and 18. The season will conclude March 26 and 27 with the SailGP Grand Final in San Francisco.

SailGP Season 3 Schedule*

  • May 14-15 Bermuda SailGP presented by Hamilton Princess
  • June 18-19 United States Sail Grand Prix | Chicago at Navy Pier
  • July 30-31 Great Britain Sail Grand Prix | Plymouth
  • August 19-20 ROCKWOOL Denmark SailGP | Copenhagen
  • September 10-11 France Sail Grand Prix | Saint-Tropez
  • September 24-25 Spain Sail Grand Prix | Andalucía - Cádiz
  • November 11-12 Dubai Sail Grand Prix presented by P&O Marinas | Dubai
  • 2023 New Zealand Sail Grand Prix | Christchurch

    *Further events will be announced to complete Season 3, which will conclude April 2023.

    The New Zealand SailGP Team is made up of:

    Peter Burling - Co-CEO & Driver Blair Tuke - Co-CEO & Wing Trimmer Andy Maloney - Flight Controller Josh Junior - Grinder Liv Mackay - Women’s Pathway Program Marcus Hansen - Grinder Louis Sinclair - Grinder Erica Dawson - Women’s Pathway Program

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