Sailing: Dolphins halt racing, as shadow falls on Christchurch's future as SailGP venue

The news is all bad for Christchurch and its relationship with SailGP.

Firstly, SailGP chief executive Sir Russell Coutts has said Lyttelton isn't a viable place to host anymore, partly due to pressure from conservation groups, and then - ironically - racing couldn't go ahead because of dolphins in the harbour.

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger has told Newshub he'll move heaven and earth to bring the event back to town.

Black Foils on Lyttelton Harbour and Sir Russell Coutts looks on.
Black Foils on Lyttelton Harbour and Sir Russell Coutts looks on. Photo credit: Getty Images

Lyttelton Harbour was anything but little today, as more than 20,000 fans rolled in this weekend to watch some sailing. Mauger was among the revellers.

"Everyone's here, everyone's happy," he insisted.

Well they were happy, until racing got cancelled, but the mayor's also not happy with Sir Russell's comments that Lyttelton is no longer a viable option to host the event 

"He's got a lot on his plate and obviously something got under his skin yesterday, because I saw him at the powhiri on Thursday and he was a very happy man," said Mauger.

An unhappy Coutts is on record saying there's a lack of flexibility from the city around event timing, along with too much pressure from minority groups over the endangered hectors dolphins.

"I'll need to have a yarn to him," said Mauger."We've just got to work together and make it work, because look at this..."

What people looked at today was not much, because dolphins in the harbour meant racing couldn't go ahead.

Earlier, punters were also annoyed with the idea of not hosting it in Christchurch again. 

There's certainly no lack of support. Desptei SailGP being held all over the world, this event in Ōtautahi is on track to be the most-sold ticketed sailing event ever held.

Even with no racing, Mauger is determined to bring it back.

"'ll be moving heaven and earth to make sure that doesn't happen," he said.

Moving dolphins was beyond even the mayor.