Sailing: Sir Russell Coutts hints at Christchurch as long-term host for NZ SailGP

Auckland's loss has become Christchurch's gain.

Lyttelton Harbour has been confirmed as the venue for the New Zealand SailGP event in March.

Lyttelton hosted the inaugural event this year, with Auckland scheduled to host every other year, as part of a four-year agreement.

The news may get worse for the City of Sails, with SailGP chief executive Sir Russell Coutts revealing he'd be happy to have the event in Christchurch every year. 

The venue is seen as made fit for purpose by Coutts.

"The reason is the shape of the harbour," he told Newshub. "The fans can get very close to the racing." 

Coutts had envisioned the same for Auckland this year, until the unavailability of Wynyard Point made SailGP untenable.

"We wanted to be downtown, if we could, but we'll look at alternatives in the future," he said. 

Don't expect that anytime soon. New Zealand has a spot on the SailGP calendar until at least 2026.  

"Frankly I'm very happy to go come... have the event in Christchurch every year," Coutts admitted.

"For the league to deem it not viable with the space we had on land to be able to host the way we wanted in Auckland was really tough," added NZ helmsman Peter Burling.

"In saying that, it's also bought an awesome opportunity to go back to Christchurch."  

The venue shift is popular among the rest of the teams, none more so than Canada, who spoiled New Zealand's homecoming in the podium race back in March.

"That was one of the best venues the series has raced on," said Kiwi helmsman Phil Robertson. "We had perfect conditions, flat water and a lovely time."

Burling agrees.

"I think it was the best event we've ever had in Sail GP. We're super excited to do it all over again." 

Next year's event will be even bigger, with an enlarged grandstand and lawn area added for spectators - essentially doubling the seating capacity.

"It should be quite a party," said Coutts.

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