Sailing: Kiwi Russell Coutts' Sail GP championship heading to Christchurch

Christchurch will become a sailing hub next summer, after being added as a stop for the next edition of the Sail GP circuit.

In late January 2021, the city will host the seventh of eight rounds of the competition, which has been billed as sailing's equivalent of Formula One and uses the lightning-quick F50 catamarans.

SailGP was set up in 2018 by Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Kiwi America's Cup veteran Russell Coutts and culminates in a winner-takes-all $US1 million ($NZ1.39m) prize.

The second season will begin with the Bermuda Grand Prix in April - a month after the end of the America's Cup - and conclude with the United States Grand Prix in San Francisco, scheduled for March.

Season two was initially scheduled for 2020, but events were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the results from the opening race in Sydney in February were declared null and void.

"Christchurch is one of New Zealand's most exciting venues," says Coutts.

"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."

Olympic champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke will lead New Zealand's first foray at the event, which will also feature Team INEOS UK skipper Sir Ben Ainslie and Prada Luna Rossa Pirelli's Jimmy Spithill.

The 2021-22 season has expanded from its five-race calendar last year, with races also to be held in Italy, England, Denmark, France, and Spain.

"There's rarely been a time in my lifelong sailing career when I've been as enthusiastic as I am about our upcoming season," adds Coutts.

"In just over three months, we'll have the world's best sailors lining up in equally matched boats for what is shaping up to be some of the sport's most competitive racing yet."

The new season will also feature Tom Slingsby's reigning champion Australian team, along with teams from Denmark, France, Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the US.

The championship last year was suspended after the first race in Sydney, which was won by the Ainslie-led British team.